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US, Cambodian Navies Kick off CARAT 2012

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The U.S. Navy and Royal Cambodian Navy commenced the 3rd annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Cambodia exercise Oct. 22, with an opening ceremony held at the Royal Cambodian Ream Navy Base.

Before starting their opening remarks, Royal Cambodian Navy Vice Adm. Ouk Seyna, and U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Tom Carney, commander, Task Force 73, both acknowledged the recent passing of King Norodom Sihanouk Oct. 15. Carney expressed his sympathy and condolences.

He then noted that CARAT Cambodia was a relatively new, but progressive exercise. "Two years have passed since 2010 when the inaugural CARAT Cambodia marked the first dedicated naval exercise between the United States and Cambodia in decades," Carney said. "Since then, the U.S. Navy and Royal Cambodian Navy have built upon previous CARATs to make this year's exercise more productive."

Carney stressed that CARAT was part of year round navy-to-navy engagement with Cambodia, including routine port visits by U.S. Navy ships, such as the U.S. 7th Fleet command ship, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) this spring, and other military exercises like Pacific Partnership 2012.

For 2012, CARAT Cambodia will include four days of events in port and 36 hours at sea. While in port, a variety of subject matter expert exchanges, symposia and community service projects and sporting events will allow members of both navies to share best practices and build friendships. There will also be a band concert held in Kampot Province.

During the at-sea phase, U.S. and Royal Cambodian Navy ships will get underway to practice a range of competencies, including formation maneuvers, gunnery and maritime security exercises.

Approximately 500 U.S. Sailors, Marines and 300 Royal Cambodian sailors are participating in CARAT Cambodia 2012. U.S. Navy ships participating include guided-missile frigate USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) and two diving and salvage ships, USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52) and USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50). Other participants include Marines from Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Pacific, divers from Mobile Dive and Salvage Unit, a medical training team from Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training, SH-60 Seahawk aircraft and the U.S. 7th Fleet band.

CARAT is a series of annual, bilateral maritime exercises between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor Leste.

Article by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Robert Clowney, U.S. Pacific Fleet