By Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Melissa K. Russell, Commander, Task Force 73 Public Affairs
SOUTH CHINA SEA (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) successfully completed five days of combined, at-sea training events with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), July 23, as part of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Singapore 2015.
CARAT is an annual, bilateral exercise series designed to increase the interoperability among participating forces, address shared maritime security concerns, and develop relationships between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of partner nations.
This year marked the 21st time Singapore has participated.
This year's at-sea phase included complex scenarios with ships, submarines and aircraft, an exercise with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and a simulated casualty medevac flight with RSN ships. Events also included group maneuvers, a gunnery exercise that allowed the ships to track and fire their surface weapons on moving targets, and several submarine familiarization exercises using U.S. and RSN submarines.
"This year we focused a lot on exercising complex group maneuvers as well as finding and tracking one another's assets through sonar systems," said Cmdr. Robert Francis, Lassen's commanding officer. "That was important because the exercises increased our interoperability by allowing us to work together and gain better understanding of each other's capability while communicating and working from the same procedures. These are core skills vital to any real-world operation."
In addition to improving communication skills and getting to know one another's systems and procedures, both navies exchanged medical expertise in the event of a humanitarian aid-disaster relief (HA-DR) situation that could require a coordinated response from regional navies.
"Because of the U.S. Navy's presence in Southeast Asia and the close relationship we've developed with the Republic of Singapore Navy, there's a strong possibility we may one day need to operate together on a mission or in a casualty situation," Francis said. "That's why we see HA-DR response skills and operational skills as equally important."
To help foster skills in HA-DR situations, Lassen hosted two Singaporean sailors, one doctor and one emergency medical specialist. The Sailors observed several shipboard medical exercises, one of which included a medevac transport of a simulated casualty.
"We were happy to welcome them (RSN sailors) aboard and let them see just how our emergency responders would react during a casualty," Francis said. "This training could literally be a life saver because now we have an organic asset available in the group with the capability to treat a patient with life threatening injuries. It's just like having a small floating hospital within minutes of Lassen."
More than 700 U.S. Sailors were involved in the underway phase of CARAT Singapore. Lassen was joined by the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Houston (SSN 713), Military Sealift Command replenishment oiler USNS Pecos (T-AO 197), a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, and ships and aircraft from the RSN.
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 Destroyer Squadron 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 multilateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.