By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gregory A. Harden II, Commander, Task Force 73 Public Affairs
SINGAPORE (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy and Republic of Singapore Navy completed the 21st annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Singapore after 11 days of comprehensive training both at sea and ashore, July 24.
CARAT Singapore featured a series of dynamic training engagements including a five-day sea phase involving ships, submarines and aircraft from both countries.
"Having arrived in Southeast Asia in 2012, this was my third time participating in CARAT Singapore and each year, the exercise gets better and better," said Capt. Fred Kacher, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7 and co-commander of the exercise task group. "The high-end tactical and integrated warfare that was on display this week proved what a valuable training partner Singapore is and how important we view this maritime relationship."
Building on CARAT's emphasis of increasing the complexity of combined scenarios each year, USN and RSN ships, submarines and aircraft operated together during joint torpedo and gunnery exercises, launched unmanned aerial vehicles, performed deck landing qualifications with embarked aircraft, and conducted concurrent simulated underway replenishments with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Pecos (T-AO 197).
The RSN's Formidable-class frigate RSS Supreme (73), Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) S-70B Seahawk helicopter and the USN's MH-60R Seahawk helicopter took part in the successful combined torpedo firing exercise July 22. Minister of State for Defence, Dr. Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, RSN Fleet Commander Rear Adm. Lew Chuen Hong, Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander of the USN's Logistics Group Western Pacific, and members of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs (GPC-DFA) were underway on board Supreme to observe the TORPEX.
The highlight of this year's exercise was the inaugural use of unmanned aircraft systems. The MQ-8B Fire Scout, embarked on the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), and the RSN's Scan Eagle UAV operated in the joint environment, demonstrating the value of unmanned platforms in providing an enhanced maritime domain awareness picture for the afloat task group.
"CARAT Singapore has increased in scope and complexity over the years. The successful conduct of the combined torpedo firing and the UAV operations underscores the high level of interoperability and trust both navies have achieved," said Col. Seah Poh Yeen, the RSN's co-commander of the exercise task group, in a Ministry of Defence press release July 22.
Additionally, Fort Worth conducted deck landing qualifications during the sea phase, landing the RSAF's S-70B on its flight deck. The DLQs on Fort Worth marked the first time a RSAF landed on board a LCS, showcasing the versatility of the rotary wing assets.
In another first, a sortie of two RSAF F-15SG Strike Eagle jets overflew the ships, providing an opportunity for the task group to practice integrated air defense measures.
Shore-based training included visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) drills, military law enforcement expert exchanges, medical culinary and aviation exchanges, and a community service project. Sailors from the USN and RSN coastal riverine teams also conducted advanced small-boat training and boarding drills.
More than personnel from both countries participated in CARAT Singapore 2015. In addition to Fort Worth, U.S. assets included the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82), a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft from Patrol Squadron (VP) 15, the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Houston (SSN 713), USNS Pecos (T-AO 197), U.S. Marine Corps military police, and a Navy Riverine Squadron. RSN assets included the Supreme, Victory-class missile corvettes RSS Vigour (92) and RSS Valour (89), Fearless-class patrol vessel RSS Fearless (94), and Archer-class submarine RSS Archer.
The Republic of Singapore has been part of the CARAT exercise series since it began in 1995. After more than two decades of annual training events between the armed forces, CARAT Singapore remains a model for cooperation that has evolved in complexity and enables both navies to refine operations and tactics in response to both traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges.
Following CARAT Singapore, additional bilateral phases of CARAT will occur from July through November 2015 with Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
Commander, Task Force 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.