United States Navy ships USNS Millinocket and USS Spruance arrived at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port on Thursday to kick off the 25th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series on 19 April.
Director Naval Operations Commodore Sanjeewa Dias and Naval Advisor to the US embassy in Sri Lanka Lieutenant Commander Brian Padge were present on this occasion.
CARAT, the US Navy’s oldest and longest continually-running regional exercise in South Asia and Southeast Asia, strengthens partnerships between regional navies and enhances maritime security cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific, the US Navy media unit said.
The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 90), Military Sealift Command expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3) and a P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol craft are taking part in the exercise between the US Navy, US Marine Corps and the armed forces of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Navy ships SLNS Sayura and SLNS Samudura are scheduled to join the exercise.
Each CARAT exercise features a shore phase with professional symposia and a robust at-sea phase that incorporates complex evolutions that increase combined operations. Both feature a broad range of naval competencies ranging from explosive ordnance disposal and live-fire gunnery exercises to search and rescue and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
The main objective of the exercise is to strengthen the maritime security and cooperation. It is expected to enhance the bilateral cooperation through small boat handling, diving exercises, and anti-terrorist operations.
CARAT also builds personal relationships through professional exchanges, sports and social events, community service projects and band concerts.
During the week-long exercise in the Southern seas, the US sailors and marines join the Sri Lanka Armed Forces to conduct partnered training focused on building interoperability and strengthening relationships, along with sharing best practices.
The exercise will offer sailors and marines a chance to conduct underwater diving sessions, combat lifesaving training and practice small boat manoeuvres. Navy Seabees will also be working with the Sri Lankan Navy civil engineering branch to renovate an elementary school in the nearby area.
Sri Lankan sailors will have the chance to serve aboard Navy vessels for hands-on learning during the at-sea phase of the exercise to increase interoperability between the two countries.