SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia (NNS) -- The 6th annual exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Cambodia concluded with a closing ceremony at the Royal Cambodian Ream Navy Base, Nov. 20.
CARAT is a bilateral exercise series between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of nine partner nations in South and Southeast Asia, including Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
In its sixth consecutive year, CARAT continues to be the premier naval engagement between the U.S. and Royal Cambodian navies. The exercise is a tangible venue for increasing maritime security cooperation and interoperability between the two navies.
"We had a very productive exercise on shore and at sea with our partners in the Royal Cambodian Navy," said Capt. H. B. Le, commodore, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7. "This week we were able to successfully complete a sophisticated exercise with training scenarios that enhanced the interoperability of our two navies."
This year's exercise marked the first time USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) participated in a naval exercise with the Royal Cambodian Navy (RCN). The presence of a littoral combat ship in CARAT Cambodia demonstrates a commitment to bringing the navy's newest and most advanced capabilities to the Asia-Pacific region, and provided a unique opportunity for RCN sailors to train with one of our newest ships.
During the sea phase, USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) and a flotilla consisting of two RCN patrol boats (Stenka 1134 and P46C 1141) conducted maneuvering and surface gunnery drills as well as a visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) exercise. Both navies also participated in a ship-rider exchange, allowing sailors from the RCN and U.S. Navy to train alongside their counterparts at sea.
Ashore, sailors from both navies participated in hands-on training in damage control, navigation, tactical combat casualty care (TCCC), force protection and (VBSS) techniques and a diving exercise was conducted by divers from Mobile Dive and Salvage Unit (MDSU 11-7) on the USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50). Professional symposia brought experts from both navies together to discuss best practices in military law, military medicine and aviation search and rescue.
"Orient Express," the U.S. 7th Fleet rock band, played a series of public concerts throughout Cambodia and participated in two community service (COMSERV) projects at Don Bosco Technical School and the M'lop Tapang Orphanage Center. Chief Musician Jose Acosta, who plays saxophone with the band, discussed their performances.
"Each year we visit Cambodia we are overwhelmed by the public support," he said. "There is always so much energy from the crowds here and it makes us feel very proud to contribute to the community and share our love of music with them during exercise CARAT."
More than 200 U.S. Sailors and 300 RCN sailors participated in CARAT Cambodia, which is the final CARAT exercise of 2015. U.S. Navy ships participating include the Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth and USNS Safeguard. Other participants included divers from MDSU 5, a Coastal Riverine Squadron and Detachment, U.S. Navy Seabees, Explosives Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EOD MU) 5 and the U.S. 7th Fleet band.
CTF 73 and DESRON-7 staff conduct advanced planning, organize resources and directly support 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.