US, Thailand begin naval drills

The Royal Thai Navy, United States Navy together with United States Marine Corps opened the 24th iteration of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) in Pattaya, Thailand on June 14.

CARAT, a US-led multi-nation exercise series is organized in bilateral phases with regional nations and is designed to enhance capabilities in a broad spectrum of naval operations.

Phases of CARAT will occur in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Bangladesh this year along with similar maritime training engagements and activities with Vietnam and the Philippines. CARAT Philippines was last held in 2016. In 2017, Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Sama Sama was held in place of CARAT Philippines.

“Twenty-four years of engagement through CARAT speaks volumes about the maritime partnership between the U.S. and Thailand,” said Rear Admiral Joey Tynch, commander of Task Force 73. “We appreciate the commitment of our partners from the Royal Thai Navy for bringing their enthusiasm, knowledge, and perspectives each year to this exercise that allows both navies to strengthen bonds while learning valuable skills from each other.”

The US Navy said guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89), expeditionary fast transport USNS Brunswick (T-EPF 6), diving and salvage ship USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52) and a P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft will participate in cooperative evolutions at sea alongside the Royal Thai Navy while Marine forces will engage in jungle training and live fire evolutions.

“The CARAT exercise series provides a unique and vital opportunity for our navies to understand the challenges inherent in a complex maritime environment, and on how to work through them in a cooperative manner,” said Capt. Lex Walker, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 7. “Having been part of last year’s CARAT exercise, this year marks a significant growth in our collective ability to work together in even more sophisticated scenarios, and I look forward to continuing this effective engagement next year and beyond.”