By Lt. Lauryn Dempsey
Destroyer Squadron 7 Public Affairs Officer
The fifth convening of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Cambodia exercise took place in and around Sihanoukville, Cambodia, Oct. 27-31.
Ms. Julie Chung, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and Vice Adm. Robert Thomas, commander, 7th Fleet gave remarks during an opening ceremony held at Ream Naval Base Oct. 27.
“To say that the great seas literally link Cambodia and the United States is no exaggeration. With $2.8 billion worth of goods traveling from Cambodia to the United States in 2013, ocean-going trade is a critical part of our relationship that employment and helps to grow both of our economies. In a similar way, much of what makes Southeast Asia a vibrant center of growth comes from the region’s access to the abundant resources and maritime mobility that long shorelines, thousands of islands, and the waters connecting them all provide,” said Chung.
Thomas echoed Ms. Chung’s remarks, and touched upon the progress our two countries have made together since the Royal Cambodian Navy joined the CARAT exercise series in 2010:
“We’ve made steady progress in just a few years, growing CARAT from a basic port visit to a series of training events on Ream Naval Base and culminating this year in a two-day sea phase in the Gulf of Thailand,” said Thomas. “Maritime security challenges in this region are real… No one nation can address these challenges alone, which is why exercises like CARAT are critical to promoting regional stability.”
CARAT provides a credible venue for regional navies to share best practices and foster maritime security cooperation. This year’s exercise included ashore and at-sea training opportunities.
Ashore, sailors on board USS Mustin (DDG 89) , an Arleigh-Burke Guided Missile Destroyer, trained with the RCN counterparts during Visit, Board, Search and Seizure exercises, and also exchanged damage control and navigation best practices:
Coastal Riverine Group 1 , Detachment Guam, sailors practiced detainment techniques with RCN sailors and military police.
7th Fleet medical staff demonstrated various medical procedures that are critical during shipboard emergency situations.
At sea, Mustin, embarked with Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7 staff and two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, trained with two RCN Stenka-class patrol boats.
A ‘killer tomato’ target was launched to conduct a joint gunnery exercise.
Mustin sailors had the opportunity to work on board RCN ships while out to sea.
Both USN and RCN VBSS teams practiced underway boarding procedures.
Capt. Fred Kacher, DESRON 7 commodore and exercise commander, congratulated the RCN over bridge-to-bridge radio on a successful underway before the ships returned to port.
CARAT also provided us an opportunity to engage with the local Cambodian community.
Children at the Village Enfants D’asie orphanage performed a traditional dance for sailors.
The 7th Fleet Band was also in town and played a number of concerts for the local community.
Local Cambodian children had a blast dancing along with the band.
During the closing ceremony, Kacher reflected on the week-long exercise.
“This year’s CARAT with the Royal Cambodian Navy was our most advanced exercise together yet. We have proven our ability to operate underway together safely and will build upon this confidence as we prepare for CARAT 2015.”