Singapore and US mark 20th anniversary of annual maritime exercise

SINGAPORE - The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) marked Tuesday its 20th collaboration with the US on the Singapore-US Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise.

RSN Fleet Commander Rear-Admiral (RADM) Timothy Lo and Commander of United States 7th Fleet Vice Admiral (VADM) Robert L. Thomas officiated at the opening ceremony of the 20th Singapore-US CARAT exercise at Changi Naval Base on Tuesday morning.

In his opening address, RADM Lo highlighted how Exercise CARAT has expanded in scope and complexity since its inception, and noted the tremendous professional value it has provided to both navies as well as its importance in enhancing bilateral relations.

RADM Lo said, "CARAT Singapore has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1995. Today, CARAT Singapore features an array of serials spanning all dimensions of maritime warfare, maritime security, force integration and base defence. The CARAT series of exercises is in keeping with the spirit of building friendship and cooperation. I encourage all exercise participants to make full use of this exercise to build lasting friendships because people-to-people ties form the foundation of a solid, enduring relationship."

Also speaking at the opening ceremony, VADM Thomas added, "As a key part of our long-standing navy-to-navy partnership, CARAT stands out as our premier bilateral exercise and it remains a credible platform to address shared maritime security challenges and enhance practical cooperation across the spectrum of naval operations."

Exercise CARAT 2014, conducted from 29 July to 8 August 2014, will focus on sharpening conventional maritime warfare capabilities such as anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine operations, as well as maritime air operations.

This year's exercise will feature for the first time a combined torpedo firing by the RSN Formidable-class frigate RSS Stalwart, Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk naval helicopter and a United States Navy (USN) MH-60R Naval Helicopter.

This year's exercise will involve a total of 1400 personnel from both countries, including six ships, a submarine, a naval helicopter and eight aircraft from the RSN and RSAF as well as three ships, a submarine and four naval helicopters from the USN and the US Marine Corps. Exercise CARAT 2014 will see the inaugural participation of the USN's P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft.

Conducted since 1995, this series of annual bilateral maritime exercises aims to enhance interoperability and professional cooperation between the participating forces from Singapore and the US.