Ships from the U.S. Navy, Republic of Singapore navy, and Royal Thai navy conducted a three-day multilateral Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise in the South China Sea last week.
CARAT included a wide set of naval competencies and maritime security training meant to enhance cooperation and interoperability among the three navies. The CARAT series began with the U.S., Singapore, and Thailand in 1995.
The Navy characterized CARAT as “the premier naval engagement in South and Southeast Asia,” providing a venue to address shared maritime security priorities, enhance interoperability, and develop sustained naval partnerships with countries across the region.
U.S. ships participating included the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG-104) and the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4). Singapore sent the Formidable-class frigate RSS Intrepid (FFS 69) while Thailand sent the Naresuan-class frigate HTMS Naresuan (FFG 421).
The four ships operated a full schedule together at sea and conducted divisional tactic maneuvers; tracking exercises; a gunnery exercise; visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) training; joint flight operations; and communications drills, the U.S. Navy said.
U.S. and Thai sailors together formed a combined VBSS team which then boarded the RSS Intrepid using a rigid-hull inflatable boat and conducted a full sweep of the ship.
“Multilateral naval exercises provide important opportunities to improve our maritime partnership with the Royal Thai and Republic of Singapore navies, by enhancing our ability to work closely together in cooperative security missions. Our Sailors certainly are learning extensively from this tremendous experience,” Cmdr. Doug Meagher, commanding officer of the USS Coronado saidi n a statement.
“Through multilateral CARAT, the three countries got to operate together. It not only enhanced our understanding of each other, but also further strengthened our relationship built over the years,” added Lt. Col. Leon Chua, the commanding officer of Singapore’s RSS Intrepid.
The commanding officer of the USS Sterett, Cmdr. Claudine Caluori, also highlighted the importance of these kinds of multilateral events.
“Operating closely with the Royal Thai and Republic of Singapore navies allows us to enhance security in the region and our Sailors are dedicated to working with and learning from these important and necessary exercises.”
The ships participating in CARAT were also set to join the international Maritime Defense Exhibition being held in Singapore this week.
The Navy noted Destroyer Squadron 7 serves as operational commander for all LCSs rotationally deployed to the 7th Fleet on behalf of Commander, Task Force 73. The squadron directly supports the execution of maritime engagements like the CARAT exercises and similar events without South and Southeast Asian countries.