The members of the Navy from the United States and the Philippines ventured the waters near Subic Bay and Palawan to formally start CARAT Exercises 2016 yesterday, June 7.
What is this exactly?
Philippines joined the CARAT Exercises in 1995 and has always participated ever since, in order to heighten maritime security and forge stronger friendship with allies. It can be considered as the Navy’s counterpart for the Balikatan Exercises of the Philippine Army.
The two parties will team up in “combined sea operations, amphibious landings, diving and salvage, maritime domain awareness, and community service events,” according to Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyrell Morris of the US Defense Media Activity.
CARAT 2016 is poised to be the most complex series to date. This year, advance naval weaponry and ships will be used: the guided missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63), the landing dock ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), the diving and salvage ship USNS Salvor (T-ARS-52), and a P-8 Poseidon aircraft.
The Philippines, on the other hand will use the Minesweeper Frigate BRP Rizal (PS74), the Del Pilar Class Frigate BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15), a Landing Craft Heavy vessel, and an AW109 helicopter.
“CARAT provides a great opportunity for our navies to operate together at sea and train during realistic scenarios that better prepare our forces for real-world operations,” said Capt. H. B. Le, Commodore, Destroyer Squadron Seven.
“With more than two decades of experience working together we are able to execute complex exercises that address shared maritime security priorities and improve inter-operability between our navies”
The exercises is once again viewed as a timely progress for the Philippine Navy, especially in matters of operating the newly acquired three landing craft heavy vessels and its first landing dock vessel, the BRP Tarlac, their largest ship to date. Because of these additional assets, the naval patrol time became frequent, going to every 45 days from every three months.
The exercises will end on June 10. It is important to note that the tension in the West Philippine Sea is increasing, and the continued harassments of Chinese navy made the resupply missions of our lone outpost in Ayungin Shoal difficult. Because of the growing rift over the disputed territories, the Navy must be fully equipped to assist our soldiers guarding our territories in WPS. (Luke Godoy)