SUBIC BAY, Philippines - The 22nd CARAT Philippines kicked off June 6 between the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, with exercises taking place in multiple locations across the country and in the waters near Subic Bay and Palawan.
The four-day CARAT (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) exercises will focus on combined operations at sea, amphibious landings, diving and salvage, maritime domain awareness, and community service events. Sailors and Marines will train with their AFP counterparts in a host of military engagements, professional exchanges and training seminars.
Civil action projects, community service events and combined military band concerts are also planned to foster relationships and bonds with the Filipino people.
“CARAT enables us to develop strong relationships with our Philippine Navy and Marine partners,” said Rear Adm. Charles Williams, Commander, Task Force 73. “Through 22 years of engagement in CARAT, we continue to make steady progress in increasing the complexity of our training and enhancing cooperation between our navies.”
CARAT Philippines is part of a broader exercise series the U.S. Navy conducts with nine partner nations in South and Southeast Asia to address shared maritime security priorities, strengthen maritime partnerships and enhance interoperability among participating forces. The Philippines has participated since the series began in 1995.
"CARAT strengthens the strong and enduring relationships between the U.S. and Philippine navies," said Rear Adm. Ronald Joseph S. Mercado AFP, commander, Philippine Fleet. "We're looking forward to working alongside our U.S. Navy and Marine partners during CARAT 2016.
U.S. Sailors and Marines participating in CARAT Philippines 2016 represent a host of ships, squadrons, and units from across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. This year’s exercise features the guided missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63), the landing dock ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), and the diving and salvage ship USNS Salvor (T-ARS-52), along with a P-8 Poseidon aircraft, Navy expeditionary forces, Marines assigned to the III Marine Expeditionary Force - 3rd Marine Division, a platoon from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, staff from Commander, Task Force 73 (CTF 73) and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, and the 7th Fleet Band Orient Express.
The Philippine Navy assets and units will include the Minesweeper Frigate BRP Rizal (PS74), the Del Pilar Class Frigate BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15), a Landing Craft Heavy vessel, an AW109 helicopter, an EOD Team, Diving Team, Construction platoon, a Marine Company and the Philippine Fleet Band.
“CARAT provides a great opportunity for our navies to operate together at sea and train during realistic scenarios that better prepare our forces for real-world operations,” said Capt. H. B. Le, commodore, Destroyer Squadron Seven. "With more than two decades of experience working together we are able to execute complex exercises that address shared maritime security priorities and improve interoperability between our navies.”
CARAT 2016 will be the most complex series to date. Its continuing relevance for more than two decades speaks to the high quality of exercise events and the enduring value of regional cooperation among allies and partners in South and Southeast Asia.
As U.S. 7th Fleet's executive agent for theater security cooperation in South and Southeast Asia, Commander, Task Force 73 conducts advanced planning, organizes resources and directly supports the execution of maritime exercises, such as the bilateral CARAT series, the Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) with Vietnam, and the multi-lateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
SOUTH CHINA SEA (June 28, 2014) U.S. and Philippine Navy ships operate together during exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) in 2014. (from the top) The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), the Philippine navy frigate BRP Gregaorio del Pilar (PF-15) and the Philippine navy frigate BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) steam in formation during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines 2014. (U.S Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jay C. Pugh. http://www.cpf.navy.mil/news.aspx/110050)