U.S., Thailand expand maritime security partnership

Demonstrating the strength of partnership and shared commitment to ensuring a free and open maritime security environment, the United States and the Kingdom of Thailand conducted joint naval training during the 27th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise, which took place from September 6-10.

In order to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, CARAT included virtual exercises and at-sea training in the Gulf of Thailand that minimized direct contact between participating forces.

“The 27th iteration of CARAT Thailand represents the longstanding partnership between the Royal Thai Government, the United States, and our like-minded allies and partners,” said CAPT. Tom Ogden, commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7. 

“Our ability to sail our ships and operate aircraft together as a unified force in a manner that minimized COVID-19 risk is a testament to our alliance and showcased both the mutual trust between and operational capability of both our nations.”

The two countries demonstrated their ability to work together by practicing helicopter landings and search and rescue exercises and testing communications as ships sailed together in complex maneuvers. Tracking exercises with P-8 aircraft increased both navies’ ability to monitor and pursue targets by ship and maritime patrol aircraft. 

For the first time, the exercise was supported by civilian experts from the European Union’s Critical Maritime Routes Indian Ocean (EU-CRIMARIO) initiative, who hosted a virtual exchange on boarding operations in the high seas and maritime domain awareness.

The at-sea phase took place in territorial and international waters near Sattahip and Ko Samui, where USS Green Bay (LPD 20) and a P-8A Poseidon aircraft joined with ships and aircraft from Thailand for allied training. Royal Thai Navy ships at-sea included the Naresuan-class frigates HTMS Naresuan (FFG 421), HTMS Taksin (FFG 422) and HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej (FFG 471).

“The COVID 19 pandemic made 2021 a challenging year because of the health restrictions imposed to control the spread of the virus,” said CAPT. Anurak Prom-ngarm, chief of staff, Frigate Squadron 2, Royal Thai Navy during a virtual ceremony. “Despite the impediments, we still managed to successfully finish the plan which shows the hard work and professionalism we devoted to this exercise.”

Beginning in 1995, CARAT has built upon other engagements in the Indo- Pacific region. Each CARAT exercise features professional symposia and a robust at-sea phase that increases interoperability. CARAT improves a broad range of naval competencies including search and rescue, humanitarian assistance, and disaster response.

Image credit: U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Thailand.  Royal Thai Navy frigates HTMS Naresuan (FFG 421), HTMS Taksin (FFG 422) and HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej (FFG 471) sail in company with amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) during exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Thailand 2021. In its 27th year, the CARAT series is comprised of multinational exercises, designed to enhance U.S. and partner navies’ abilities to operate together in response to traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.

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