In this file photo, guided-missile frigate USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) performs maneuvers during the maritime exercise Koa Kai in the Hawaiian operating area March 31, 2012. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Barker)

SAN DIEGO - The guided-missile frigate, USS Vandegrift (FFG 48), is scheduled to depart for a six-month, independent deployment to the 7th Fleet area of operations, May 1.

Vandegrift will be participating in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2012. CARAT is an annual series of bilateral naval exercises between the U.S. and Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

"I am extremely proud of this exceptional crew. Their hard work and professionalism ensured that Vandegrift is ready to deploy more than six months ahead of schedule," said Cmdr. Brandon Bryan, commanding officer of Vandegrift.

"Our training over the last several months has focused on our ability to support the strategy of Commander, 7th Fleet in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, including the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training series of bilateral exercises," Bryan added.

Vandegrift is assigned to U.S. Third Fleet, which leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the west coast of North America to the International Date Line and provides realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy. Third Fleet's international relationships strengthen the ability to respond to crises and protect the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners.