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US, Bangladesh Navies Complete At-Sea Portion of CARAT Bangladesh

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U.S. and Bangladesh Sailors completed the at-sea portion of the first Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) held in Bangladesh on Sept. 23.

Guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100), guided-missile frigate USS Ford (FFG 54) and mine countermeasures ship USS Defender (MCM 2) participated in exercises at sea with Bangladesh navy ships (BNS) Bangabandhu (F 25), BNS Bijoy (F 35) and BNS Sangu (P 713).

The exercises included flashing-light signaling drills, subject matter expert exchanges, divisional tactics for ships movements, and a visit, board, search and seizure boarding of Ford by a Bangladesh navy special warfare and diving salvage team. The at-sea period culminated with a mock naval battle between two surface action groups (SAGs), each composed of U.S. and Bangladesh ships.

"The SAG vs. SAG underway was a highlight," said Capt. William Lovely, deputy commodore, Task Group 73.1. "Two SAGs are competing against each other, trying to 'kill' each other and it became a very competitive event that was very, very special to the group."

U.S. and Bangladesh crew members participated in the at-sea period aboard each others' ships to increase immersion.

"Most beneficial was the sharing of knowledge," said Bangladesh navy Lt. Rahman Saif, while aboard Ford. "I learned much by seeing the operation of a helicopter aboard an American vessel."

CARAT Bangladesh began Sept. 18 and is the first dedicated naval exercise between the U.S. and Bangladesh, and represents a milestone between the two countries. Events ashore include professional military exchanges in medical and humanitarian assistance; diving training; ship tours; various symposiums and friendship-building events such as cultural tours, receptions and sporting events.

CARAT 2011 is a series of bilateral exercises held annually in Southeast Asia to strengthen relationships and enhance force readiness between the U.S. and partner nations.

Article by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Lowell Whitman, Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training