Three ships of the United States Navy arrived in Puerto Princesa, in the island of Palawan, the Philippines, on June 28: guided-missile destroyers USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), USS Howard (DDG 83) and diving and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50). The ships were in the Southeast Asian archipelago to team up with the Philippine Navy for the 17th Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), a series of annual bilateral military exercises.
A feature on the Navy website shared that this is the second time that the island of Palawan played host to the exercises in the Philippines. Last year’s CARAT was held at Subic Bay, while Cebu hosted CARAT in 2009. The last time Palawan hosted the exercises was in 2008. CARAT consists of eleven days of training exchanges, both ashore and at sea.
Capt. David Welch, Commander of Task Group 73.1, shared: “The U.S. and Philippine navies have a long history of working together, and exercises like CARAT provide a great venue for us to hone our skills and increase our interoperability.”
Among the training activities are Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) exercises; diver training; salvage operations; joint medical, dental and civic action projects, and aircrew familiarization exchanges, as enumerated by the Navy feature. There will also be symposia conducted on the following topics: operations planning, search and rescue practices, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions, interagency cooperation and public affairs.
Aside from the Philippine Navy, the U.S. Navy also teams up with the Armed Forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand for CARAT exercises.