From Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Will Gaskill, USS Germantown Public Affairs
SATTAHIP NAVAL BASE, Thailand (NNS) -- The amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) completed their third phase of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise in Sattahip, Thailand on Sept. 2.
From July to September, Germantown traveled to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to participate in CARAT exercises with embarked elements of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines (2/3 Marines), Coastal Riverine Squadron (CORIVRON) 3 and 4, Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) Far East Detachment, Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EOD MU) 5 and elements of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7.
"CARAT exercises allow our forces to continue enhancing our interoperability while addressing shared maritime security priorities," said Capt. H.B. Le, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7. "The exercise demonstrates our commitment to our regional partnerships and stability and security in the Asia-Pacific."
Making their first appearance in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) CORIVRON 3, from San Diego and CORIVRON 4, from Virginia Beach, participated in multiple patrol exercises during CARAT. Their participation in CARAT was unique, as their missions typically take them to the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR in support of special operations, high value asset escort and insertion/extraction in combat zones.
"This was all new to us and it was a logistical challenge because we had to carefully plan transport and joint training exercises with our partner nations," said Lt. Nathaniel McLaughlin, officer in charge of CORIVRON 4. "We have many capabilities, and we had to coordinate how to best exchange our subject matter experts' knowledge and provide training, as well as learn from our partner nations."
For a ship built around its amphibious well deck capabilities, this experience was a first for Germantown as well.
"Working with the riverine control boats (RCBs) was a new experience for everyone," said Cmdr. Gary Harrington, commanding officer of USS Germantown. "This was the first time they have been utilized on Germantown, as well as in the 7th Fleet AOR."
The Marines participated in numerous beach landing exercises and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) training with each of the participant countries.
"The joint training we did with our partner forces really paid off, and this mission was a resounding success," said Lt. Col. Brian Coyne, commanding officer of the 2/3 Marines. "Our mission is to train to be able to fight tonight, and we can't do that without our partnership with the Navy."
Germantown's full amphibious capabilities were well utilized, having launched landing craft air cushion (LCAC) craft, amphibious assault vehicles (AAV), combat rubber raiding craft (CRRC) and RCBs throughout each CARAT. The ship also completed flight qualifications during the exercise, landing SH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters during touch-and-go operations.
As part of a different type of aerial demonstration, BQM-74E target drones were launched from Germantown's flight deck. These slender orange missiles were used during CARATs Indonesia and Thailand for those countries to test out their self-defense targeting systems. Leaving the deck at speeds approaching 300 knots, the drones flew a course simulating an inbound hostile missile, allowing other ships to target and fire upon them.
"I could not be more pleased with the performance during CARAT, not just on the U.S. side, but also with the armed forces of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand," said Harrington. "The credit goes to every Sailor involved in these events. Each individual plays a key role in safety and mission success."
In its 21st year, CARAT is an annual, bilateral exercise with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the armed forces of nine partner nations including Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.