U.S. and Republic of Singapore Navy ships steam in formation at the conclusion of the at-sea phase of exercise CARAT. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Will Gaskill)

SINGAPORE - The 22nd annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise between the U.S. Navy and Republic of Singapore Armed Forces concluded with a ceremony at Changi Naval Base July 28.

CARAT Singapore 2016 focused on addressing shared maritime security concerns, building relationships and enhancing interoperability among participating forces for the two nations. The nearly two-week-long exercise consisted of shore-based and at-sea training engagements in multiple warfare areas and marked the first time a ship anti-submarine warfare readiness effectiveness measuring (SHAREM) event had been incorporated into CARAT. SHAREM measures how well surface ships and aircraft can detect and track submarines, and provides the two navies the opportunity to share tactics and develop procedures for future joint operations.

Capt. H.B. Le, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7, discussed the importance of adding complexity into the CARAT series during his closing remarks.

"In order to ensure we operate effectively when our countries call upon us, we've continued to add complexity and diversity into CARAT exercises," said Le. "In 2016 our navies trained together in events that encompass a wide range of warfare areas, and I think this displays our mutual commitment to ensuring we are prepared to work together during times of crisis, at a moment's notice."

During the six-day sea phase, the U.S. and Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) trained together in air defense exercises, gunnery exercises, cross-deck helicopter operations, anti-submarine warfare exercises, and complex surface warfare tactics. New to the exercise in 2016, the two navies engaged in an extended tactical free-play scenario where training in multiple warfare areas occurred simultaneously.

"The sea phase of CARAT Singapore provided us the opportunity to work side-by-side with our RSN counterparts in a realistic training environment at sea," said Cmdr. Doug Pegher, commanding officer, USS Stethem (DDG 63). "The training scenarios we worked through together will go a long way in increasing the interoperability of our navies."

Ashore, sailors from the two navies participated in two community service events and held professional exchanges and training in anti-submarine warfare, military law, aviation, damage control and medical operations.

After more than two decades of annual CARAT training engagements between U.S. and Republic of Singapore Armed Forces, the exercise remains a model for cooperation which has evolved in complexity and enables both nations to refine maritime operations and tactics.

CARAT is a series of bilateral naval exercises between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste. CARAT 2016 is the most complex series to date. Its continuing relevance for more than two decades speaks to the high quality of exercise events and the enduring value of regional cooperation among allies and partners in South and Southeast Asia.

More than 1,000 sailors participated in CARAT Singapore. U.S. assets involved included Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance (DDG 111) and Stethem with embarked MH-60R helicopters, Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Buffalo (SSN 715), a P-8A Poseidon, USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3) and USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE 9), as well as staff from Task Force 73 and Destroyer Squadron 7. Commander, Destroyer Squadron 7 and Commander, 185 Squadron (RSN) served as co-commander, Task Group for the exercise.

Commander, Task Force 73 and Destroyer Squadron 7 staff conduct advanced planning, organize resources and directly support the execution of maritime exercises such as the bilateral CARAT series, the Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) with Vietnam, and the multilateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.