Members of the Philippine Navy band greet the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) as the ship arrives June 27 for CARAT Philippines. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jay C. Pugh)

SUBIC BAY, Philippines - The 19th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines exercise commenced with an opening ceremony in Subic Bay, June 27.

Continuing through July 2, CARAT Philippines 2013 consists of seven days of shore-based and at-sea training events designed to address shared maritime security priorities, develop relationships, and enhance interoperability among participating forces.

"For the past 19 years, CARAT Philippines has played a major role in the strong and enduring relationship between our naval forces," said Rear Adm. Tom Carney, commander, Task Force 73 and commander, Naval Forces CARAT. "This year's exercise builds on that longstanding foundation, and offers many opportunities to conduct joint and combined training with the Philippine Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps."

CARAT is a series of bilateral naval exercises between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste. CARAT Philippines began in 1995, and has since occurred in several locations throughout the Philippines, including Cebu (2009), Subic Bay (2010), Puerto Princesa (2011) and most recently General Santos City in Mindanao (2012).

Training events in each CARAT phase are tailored based on available assets and mutual training goals across a broad range of naval capabilities. CARAT Philippines 2013 will focus on maritime security operations, maritime domain awareness and information sharing. The exercise will also feature extensive training in diving and salvage operations, jungle warfare and marksmanship, tactical combat casualty care, civil affairs, riverine and boarding team scenarios, sporting events, community service projects and public band concerts.

More than 600 U.S. Sailors and Marines are participating in CARAT Philippines 2013.

Participating ships include the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) with embarked Commander, Task Group 73.1/ Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7 staff, and the diving and salvage ships, USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) and USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52). A company of Marines from with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment will participate in shore-based events.

Also participating in CARAT Philippines are medical, civil affairs and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) evaluators from Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command (MCAST), divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1 (MUDSU), P-3C Orion aircraft, and the U.S. Seventh Fleet Band, Orient Express.

Rear Adm. Edgardo D. Tamayo, left, vice commander of the Philippine Navy, shakes hands with Rear Adm. Tom Carney, commander of Logistics Group Western Pacific during the CARAT Philippines opening ceremony (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jay C. Pugh)