Monday, June 13, 2011

Joint PH-US navy training off Palawan all set for end of June

By Philippine News Agency, Monday, June 13, 2011

Amid rising tensions off Palawan and in the South China Sea, the Philippine Navy said it is all set for an annual naval training exercise with the United States Navy, slated for June 28 to July 8, off Palawan shorelines.

The joint training exercise, dubbed Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training or CARAT, is mandated under the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty. This year’s exercise will be held east of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan and in Sulu Sea.

CARAT 2011 is a combined naval tactical operations exercise involving fleet forces of both the Philippine and U.S. navies.

PN spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Omar Tonsay said the exercise is not related to the dispute on Spratly islands. “We’ve been doing this (for more than a decade), so there’s no politics here,” he stressed.

Several activities, including non-military events, are lined up for the exercise. These include community relations projects and medical/dental/engineering civic action projects in host communities.
Tonsay told reporters CARAT’s goal is to strengthen the cooperation between the PHL and U.S. navies in thwarting intercontinental and trans-border crimes, piracy and maritime terrorism which are growing concerns of the global community.

He said CARAT has been done for more than 10 years already. Last year, it was held off Zambales province.
Tonsay said he does not have the figures yet on how many troops and number of ships will be deployed for CARAT 2011, but the U.S. Navy is sending USS Chung Hoon, USS Howard and USNS Safeguard.

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