BAY OF BENGAL (Sept. 22, 2011) Bangladesh Navy ships are joined by ships from the U.S. Navy during a surface gunnery exercise as part of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Bangladesh 2011. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Barker)

BAY OF BENGAL - U.S. and Bangladesh sailors completed the at-sea portion of the first ever Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Bangladesh, Sept. 23.

The guided missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100), the guided missile frigate USS Ford (FFG 54) and mine countermeasures ship USS Defender (MCM 2) participated in exercises at sea with the Bangladesh Navy Ships (BNS) Bangabandhu (F 25), BNS Bijoy (F 35) and BNS Sangu (P 713).

The exercises included flashing light signaling drills, subject matter expert exchanges, divisional tactics for ships movements, a Bangladesh navy Special Warfare and a Diving Salvage (SWADS) Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) boarding of Ford. The at-sea period culminated with a mock naval battle between two surface action groups (SAGs), each composed of U.S. and Bangladesh ships.

"The SAG vs. SAG underway was a highlight for the Bangladesh Navy, it was a highlight for the U.S. Navy," said Capt. William Lovely, deputy commodore, Task Group 73.1. "Two SAG's are competing against each other, trying to kill each other and it became a very competitive event that was very, very special to the group."

U.S. and Bangladesh crew members were invited to participate in the at-sea period aboard each others ships. Increasing immersion and opportunities to see how the two navies operate.

"Most beneficial was the sharing of knowledge," said Bangladesh navy Lt. Rahman Saif, a rider aboard USS Ford. "I learned much by seeing the operation of a helicopter aboard an American vessel."

"As the [Bangladesh navy] commanding officers and I talked; this [CARAT] is about coming to a scene of need and knowing what each other are thinking," said Lovely. "I think it [the at-sea phase] was invaluable."

CARAT Bangladesh began Sept. 18 and is the first dedicated naval exercise between the U.S. and Bangladesh, and represents a milestone between the two countries. Events ashore include professional military exchanges in medical and humanitarian assistance; diving training; ship tours; various symposiums and friendship-building events such as cultural tours, receptions and sporting events.

CARAT 2011 is a series of bilateral exercises held annually in Southeast Asia to strengthen relationships and enhance force readiness between the U.S. and partner nations.

Learn more about CARAT on the exercise Facebook page.