CARAT 2011 sparkles with 150 shore, ocean-based exercises

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More than 150 training and cultural-exchange events are underway as Thai and American naval forces meet again for the 2011 CARAT exercises in Sattahip.

Four U.S. ships and a total of 3,500 personnel are participating in this year’s Cooperation Readiness Afloat And Training (CARAT) exercises. The war games launched May 11 with shore-based activities, including engineering and damage control training exchanges, joint medical, dental and civic action projects, and joint community service projects at local schools.

Naval marksmen aim for the sky during the opening ceremonies for this year’s Cooperation Readiness Afloat And Training (CARAT) exercises.  The 2011 CARAT event began May 11 and concludes today, May 20. Naval marksmen aim for the sky during the opening ceremonies for this year’s Cooperation Readiness Afloat And Training (CARAT) exercises.  The 2011 CARAT event began May 11 and concludes today, May 20.

The at-sea phase, which concludes May 20, focuses on developing maritime security capabilities in areas such as maritime interdiction, information sharing, combined operations at sea, patrols and gunnery exercises, and anti-piracy and anti-smuggling exercises.

Adm. Chaiyos Sunthornnak, director of the Thai CARAT forces and chief of Frigate Squadron 2, said the exercise is intended to both foster relations between the two countries and improve cooperation and interoperability of the two navies.

Adm. Chaiyos Sunthornnak (left), director of the Thai CARAT forces and chief of Frigate Squadron 2, and Rear Adm. Thomas Carney, commander of Task Force 73 preside over the CARAT opening ceremonies. Adm. Chaiyos Sunthornnak (left), director of the Thai CARAT forces and chief of Frigate Squadron 2, and Rear Adm. Thomas Carney, commander of Task Force 73 preside over the CARAT opening ceremonies.

Exercises focusing on amphibious assaults, patrolling marine transport routes and other marine exercises have raised confidence levels in the past, Chaiyos said.

In all, seven Thai warships, three aircraft and personnel from the Marine Corps and Air and Coastal Defense command are partaking in the games. The U.S. contributed the amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga, the guided-missile destroyer USS Howard, the frigate USS Reuben James and the rescue / salvage ship USNS Safeguard.

Additional participants include an amphibious landing force of Marines from 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines, U.S. Navy Seabees, a U.S. Coast Guard training team, and P-3C Orion and SH-60 Seahawk aircraft.

“We expect this will be a historic year for CARAT, with some of the most complex training ever,” Rear Adm. Thomas Carney, commander of Task Force 73, said in a pre-exercise statement. “In the year since our last exercise the Thai navy successfully completed its first anti-piracy mission as part of Task Force 151, and the aircraft carrier Chakri Naruebet responded to floods in the South to save Thai citizens and international guests.”