RSS Intrepid (FFS 69), HTMS Naresuan (FFG 421), and USS Coronado (LCS 4) form a line behind USS Sterett (DDG 104) as the ships prepare to conduct a live-fire exercise, May 10. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Byron C. Linder)

SOUTH CHINA SEA - Ships from the Republic of Singapore Navy, Royal Thai Navy and U.S. Navy completed a three-day multilateral Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise in the South China Sea, May 12.

The exercise included a broad spectrum of naval competencies and maritime security training aimed at enhancing cooperation and interoperability among the three navies.

The navies are longtime maritime partners under the CARAT exercise series, which began in 1995 with Thailand and Singapore as original participants. This engagement follows initiative to make some phases of the CARAT exercise series multilateral.

“Multilateral naval exercises provide important opportunities to improve our maritime partnership with the Royal Thai and Republic of Singapore navies, by enhancing our ability to work closely together in cooperative security missions,” said Cmdr. Doug Meagher, commanding officer, USS Coronado (LCS 4). “Our Sailors certainly are learning extensively from this tremendous experience."

The Formidable-class frigate RSS Intrepid (FFS 69) represented the Republic of Singapore Navy at sea, and the Naresuan-class frigate HTMS Naresuan (FFG 421) participated from the Royal Thai Navy. Participating U.S. ships included the guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) and the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4).

“Through multilateral CARAT, the three countries got to operate together. It not only enhanced our understanding of each other but also further strengthened our relationship built over the years,” said Lt Col. Leon Chua, commanding officer of Intrepid.

While operating together at sea the ships completed a robust schedule including divisional tactic maneuvers, visit, board, search and seizure training, joint flight operations, and communications drills.

"We were pleased to operate at sea with our Republic of Singapore and United States Navy partners during this exercise," said Capt Chaksawat Saiwong, commanding Officer, HTMS Naresuan. "This was meaningful training for all three navies and it deepens our long-standing maritime partnership between our nations."

As the premier naval engagement in South and Southeast Asia, CARAT provides a regional venue to address shared maritime security priorities, enhance interoperability among participating forces and develop sustained naval partnerships with nations across South and Southeast Asia.

"Multilateral events are important in building strong relationships with our regional partners,” said Cmdr. Claudine Caluori, commanding officer, USS Sterett. “Operating closely with the Royal Thai and Republic of Singapore navies allows us to enhance security in the region and our Sailors are dedicated to working with and learning from these important and necessary exercises."

The participating ships will join the International Maritime Defense Exhibition in Singapore from May 15-18 in Singapore.

As U.S. 7th Fleet's executive agent for theater security cooperation in South and Southeast Asia, Commander, Task Force 73 and Destroyer Squadron 7 conduct advanced planning, organizes resources and directly supports the execution of maritime exercises and engagements, such as Pacific Partnership, the bilateral CARAT series, the Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) with Vietnam and the multilateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

USS Sterett (DDG 104) moves into position ahead of RSS Intrepid (FFS 69), HTMS Naresuan (FFG 421) and USS Coronado (LCS 4) during a maneuvering exercise, May 11. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Deven Leigh Ellis)