In this file photo, U.S. Sailors approach a Royal Brunei Navy offshore patrol vessel during training as part of a previous CARAT exercise. (U.S. Navy/PO3 Derek A. Harkins)

MUARA, Brunei - Navy and Marine Corps personnel from the United States and Brunei Darussalam commenced the 22nd iteration of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) on Nov. 14.

CARAT Brunei 2016 will continue through Nov. 18, and features 5 days of shore-based and at-sea training events designed to strengthen maritime partnerships and enhance cooperation between the U.S. and Royal Brunei navies and armed forces.

"The United States deeply values our relationship with Brunei, centered on a defense partnership that underpins our shared commitment to the peace and security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region," said Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, Commander, Task Force 73. "Twenty two years of CARAT solidified our relationship with the Brunei Armed Forces, building genuine friendships and a strong partnership based on common interests."

CARAT is an adaptable, flexible exercise; its scenarios are tailored with inputs from the United States and partner nations to meet shared maritime security priorities, such as counter-piracy, counter-smuggling, maritime interception operations and port security. The exercise series is also a venue to share the latest best practices in search and rescue, military law and medicine, amphibious warfare, diving and salvage operations, and humanitarian assistance/disaster response (HA/DR).

"We have a very diverse exercise planned this year that includes training and operations in multiple naval warfare areas," said Capt. Lex Walker, deputy commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7. "This is the 22nd year that our navies have trained side-by-side in CARAT, and each year we've increased the complexity in an effort to strengthen interoperability between our forces."

During the sea phase, ships from Brunei and the U.S. will conduct deck landing qualifications and formation ship maneuvers. Mobile Diving and Salvage personnel will also operate side-by-side while embarked on USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52). Ashore, U.S. Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment will work alongside soldiers from the Royal Brunei Landing Force (RBLF) during a jungle warfare exercise. Additional community exchanges and skills symposia will occur throughout the exercise to increase professional development of all participating forces.

U.S. forces participating in CARAT Brunei include personnel assigned to USS McCampbell (DDG 85), USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3), USNS Salvor, a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, staff from Commander, Task Force (CTF) 73 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, the U.S. 7th Fleet Band, Orient Express, and U.S. Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment.

CTF 73 and DESRON 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 multi-lateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

In its 22nd year, CARAT is a bilateral exercise series between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the armed forces of nine partner nations in South and Southeast Asia, including Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.