Singapore-US Carat exercise kicks off

US Navy Rear Admiral Brian Hurley (right), shakes hands with  RSN Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Lew Chuen Hong during the opening ceremony for the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) bilateral exercise in Singapore on July 19.
US Navy Rear Admiral Brian Hurley (right), shakes hands with RSN Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Lew Chuen Hong during the opening ceremony for the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) bilateral exercise in Singapore on July 19.PHOTO: AFP

Singapore and the United States embarked on their joint annual maritime warfare drill - the Singapore-US Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (Carat) exercise - yesterday.

Now in its 22nd year, it involves the Singapore Armed Forces and the US Navy and Marine Corps.

About 700 personnel and several ships, submarines and aircraft from both countries are taking part.

The exercise, to be held till July 29, aims to address shared maritime security concerns and sharpen naval warfare capabilities.

This year's drill will be more complex than before. It will consist of engagements in areas such as air defence, complex surface warfare manoeuvring, search and seizure, and cross-deck helicopter operations.

For the first time, both navies will conduct training together that assesses how well their ships and aircraft can detect and track submarines, allowing them to share tactics and develop procedures for future joint operations.

At the opening ceremony at Changi Naval Base yesterday, Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) Fleet Commander, Rear-Admiral Lew Chuen Hong, said such "deep and longstanding defence relations need to be continually nurtured and strengthened".

Carat is a series of bilateral naval exercises between the US Navy, US Marine Corps, and the armed forces of several countries such as Singapore, Bangladesh and Thailand.

Speaking to reporters on the USS Stethem, a guided-missile destroyer taking part in Carat, Rear-Admiral Brian Hurley, the US Navy's commander of Logistics Group Western Pacific, said working with these countries has improved the security in this region.

He noted that the Singapore navy is a respected leader in the region. "Time-tested partnerships matter because when emergencies and contingencies occur, we all want to operate at sea with people we know and people who have earned our trust," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore-US Carat exercise kicks off'. Print Edition | Subscribe