The 24th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise between the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, and Royal Thai Navy concluded in Pattaya, Thailand, June 21.
CARAT Thailand 2018 involved over 3,000 military personnel from the U.S. and Royal Thai Navy conducting nearly a dozen exercises at sea, over 20 symposiums and table-top exercises that covered the entire spectrum of naval operations, and daily band performances and sports engagements with schools and organizations throughout the area.
“The strong partnership between the U.S. and Royal Thai Navy is built upon the enduring commitment and hard work of 24 years of CARAT exercises. Our navies operate effectively as a unified maritime force as a result of the mutual trust that has been strengthened over the last two decades of sailing together,” said Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander, Task Force 73. “As we celebrate 200 years of the U.S.-Thai Friendship, we look forward to continuing this great tradition of CARAT exercises next year and beyond.”
The 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 operated alongside Royal Thai Navy frigates HTMS Taskin, HTMS Naresuan and HTMS Bangprakong in cooperative evolutions in the Gulf of Thailand. Exercises included a gunnery exercise to maintain Sailors’ readiness with on-board weapon systems, diving operations to promote mutual efficiency underwater, and an air defense exercise aimed to increase proficiency in air and missile defense.
U.S. Marines from Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment underwent jungle survival training with the Royal Thai Marines learning survival techniques on how to find water sources and identify edible vegetation, animals and insects, along with other events including live-fire events and small boat operations.
“There’s a comradery there that we share knowing that we’re all fighting, training and learning with each other for a common good,” said Capt. Brandon Bocian, commander of Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
Other evolutions included joint dive training with Mobile Diving Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1 to increase familiarization of dive equipment and operations and a mine exercise with P-8 Poseidon flights in support of at-sea evolutions.
“We have been working with Royal Thai Navy aircrew doing training flights with them, and we have had multiple briefs and classroom discussions covering our different mission sets and how we can most effectively work together,” said Lt. Brice Petersen, officer-in-charge of Patrol Squadron 4. “Primarily for this exercise, we have been doing MDA, Maritime Domain Awareness, going out and identifying the different vessels that are in the area.”
The multi-nation CARAT exercise series is organized in bilateral phases with regional nations designed to promote regional security cooperation, strengthen maritime partnerships and enhance mutual capabilities and interoperability.
CARAT builds upon other engagements and exercises with Thailand to include Pacific Partnership, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission, Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) involving more than a dozen partner nations, and Cobra Gold, Indo-Pacific’s largest multinational exercise. These engagements serve to enhance information sharing and coordination, build mutual warfighting capability and support long-term regional cooperation.