Friday, June 12, 2009

Singapore, U.S. Navies Renew Ties as CARAT Begins

The guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) shown underway with the Republic of Singapore Navy frigate RSS Intrepid (69), while transiting to Singapore for Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2009. CARAT is a series of bilateral exercises held annually in Southeast Asia to strengthen relationships and enhance the operational readiness of the participating forces. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Ed Early/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Bill Larned, Commander, Task Group 73.5 Public Affairs

SINGAPORE (NNS) -- The second phase of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2009 kicked off in Singapore with an opening ceremony at Changi Naval Base June 8.

Rear Adm. Ng Chee Peng, Royal Singapore Navy (RSN) Fleet commander, ushered in the 15th year of CARAT exercises in Singapore and said the event serves as testimony to the close working relationship enjoyed by the two countries and their armed forces.

"These strong ties and the high levels of mutual understanding and trust that we enjoy today are due to shared strategic perspectives and common interests and are reinforced through many years of interactions in activities and exercises such as exercise CARAT," Ng said.

Task Group 73.5, consisting of the dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and guided-missile destroyers USS Chafee (DDG 90) and USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), arrived at Changi, June 5. The rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) will also participate.

While in Singapore, task group personnel will participate in a series of maritime security exercises and coordinated operations with the Singapore Armed Forces. The intent of the exercises is to increase cooperation, foster the exchange of ideas and knowledge and strengthen the participants' relationships.

"Our nations look to us, the men and women of our navies, to stay one step ahead," said Rear Adm. Nora Tyson, commander, Task Force 73.

"CARAT will continue to build the bonds between our Sailors and enhance our ability to work together at sea," said Capt. William A. Kearns III, commodore of Task Group 73.5.

Prior to the opening ceremony, the Formidable-class frigates RSS Formidable (68), RSS Intrepid (69) and RSS Stalwart (72) conducted an encounter exercise with Task Group 73.5 ships during their transit to Singapore. The at-sea phase of CARAT will bring the ships together for another six days of training.

While underway, the RSN's frigates and tank landing ships will engage in surface and air gunnery drills as well as a replenishment-at-sea exercise. Additionally, helicopters from both countries will conduct deck landing qualifications.

Ashore, Singapore Armed Forces personnel and U.S. Marines from the 24th Marine Regiment will conduct urban warfare training, and a U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team will join RSN forces for security training. Other participants will take part in a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise off Sudong.

In all, more than 1,300 Sailors and Marines will be working afloat and ashore during the course of the exercise.

"Given the wide spectrum of activities planned, I am confident that CARAT 09 will continue to be an enriching and fulfilling experience for all exercise participants," Ng said.