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Sixth Phase of Southeast Asia Exercise Series Underway

Sixth Phase of Southeast Asia Exercise Series Underway

By Chief Journalist Melinda Larson, Commander, Destroyer Squadron 1 Public Affairs

Subic Bay, Philippines -- (NNS) August 16, 2005 -- The sixth and final phase of the 2005 Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series is underway here following an Aug. 16 ceremony that marked an official start to a weeklong series of events ashore and at sea focused on increasing maritime interdiction capabilities of the U.S. and Philippine navies.

South China Sea -- (August 14, 2005) -- USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60) and USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) practice maneuvering drills in the South China Sea along with the amphibious transport dock ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49). The ships are enroute to the Republic of the Philippines for the 6th and final phase of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series. CARAT is an annual series of bilateral military training exercises with several Southeast Asian nations designed to enhance the interoperability of the respective sea services. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Journalist Melinda Larson.

 U.S. Navy photo by Chief Journalist Melinda Larson

Nearly 2,000 personnel from the armed forces of both nations and nine ships are taking part in the exercise.

In its 11th year, CARAT is an annual series of bilateral military training exercises with several Southeast Asia nations, designed to enhance the interoperability of the countries' respective sea services in a variety of mission areas that are mutually beneficial. This year’s CARAT series focuses on the development of skills useful in tackling maritime threats.

“These threats include maritime piracy and armed robbery, as well as maritime terrorism and transnational crimes committed at sea," said Commander, Task Force 712, Rear Adm. Kevin Quinn, the executive agent for CARAT, during remarks at the opening ceremony in the Subic Arts Center. "This year’s edition of CARAT gives our two navies a great opportunity to practice some critical skills that can be applied to tackling those threats.

”Those skills important to building operational confidence between the U.S. Navy and the Philippine Navy (PN) include sharing maritime security skill sets, such as how to board a suspected rogue ship, question its crew, and search for contraband.

“Piracy and sea robbery tend to be focused in this region of the world,” Quinn told the media following the opening ceremony. “Having the ability to work together to counteract those threats is very important.”

Acting on threats together means working jointly in nearly every shipboard environment, including communications, at-sea maneuvering, and command and control. Air and amphibious operations are also a part of the training mix.

“All of our exercise events are designed to create as much interaction as possible between our Sailors and Marines,” Quinn said. “The only way two navies can operate efficiently together at sea is through a common set of procedures and through good communications.”

Key to every level of operations is communications, Quinn emphasized, noting that will be possible between both navies via the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS). The real-time communications asset promotes joint situational awareness and allows information to be shared securely.

One of many highlights of the weeklong exercise includes an amphibious landing. More than 150 Philippine Marines will embark USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) to conduct a landing with landing craft, air-cushion (LCAC) from Assault Craft Unit 5, Det. Western Pacific Alpha, currently assigned to the ship.

“Basically a navy-to-navy exercise, CARAT specifically involves combined naval tactical operations involving fleet forces by deploying and employing naval surface, air, special operations groups and Marine forces of the U.S. and the Philippines,” Commander, Philippine Fleet, Rear Adm. Alfredo Abueg Jr. said during his opening remarks. “This exercise is a very strategic and operative venue in which our Sailors and Marines train cross-culturally with those of the U.S. Navy.”

Pierside boardings will prepare combined USN/PN boarding teams for a realistic at-sea boarding exercise.

Divers will hone their skills during combined diving and salvage exercises.

“Our Sailors must be well trained in the various skills that form the foundation of their professional knowledge,” Quinn said. “CARAT adds extra value to these efforts because our forces train together and learn from each other.” Sailors will also interact with members of the local community through a series of medical/dental and engineering civic action projects in the surrounding area. In addition, Sailors will perform handiwork and spend time with students at several schools in nearby Olongapo.

“The interface between our people is a true hallmark of CARAT and one of the most important aspects of the exercise,” Quinn said.

Capt. Buzz Little, commander, Destroyer Squadron 1 and the CARAT task group will lead the combined USN/PN CARAT task group, along with his PN counterpart, Commodore Octavio Pabuayon.

The U.S. CARAT task group is made of up of the dock landing ship Harpers Ferry, the frigate USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60), the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) and the rescue and salvage ship USS Safeguard (ARS 50).

Other elements, including P-3C Orion and SH-60 Seahawk aircraft, U.S. Navy Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5, based in Port Huenemme, Calif., LCACs, a U.S. Coast Guard training team, and U.S. Army veterinarians will also take part in CARAT Philippines.

Philippine CARAT assets include the patrol ships BRP Rizal (PS74), BRP Emelio Jacinto (PS35), the landing ship vessel BRP Bacolod City (LC550), and the two patrol gunboats BRP Hilario Ruiz (PG378) and BRP Timoteo Figoracion (PG389). Fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, two Naval Special Operations Groups, and the 1st Marine Battalion will be involved with the exercise.

Little’s staff, currently embarked aboard Harpers Ferry, is based in San Diego. Paul Hamilton is homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Rodney M. Davis in Everett, Wash. Harpers Ferry and Safeguard are forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).