U.S. and Bangladeshi navy officials listen to a recitation during the opening ceremony of CARAT Bangladesh, Nov. 4. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Tristin Barth)

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh - The U.S. and Bangladesh navies kicked off exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) in Chittagong, Nov. 4.

Sailors and Marines across five ships including a guided missile frigate and patrol craft from the Bangladesh Navy, and a maritime patrol aircraft and dry cargo ship USNS PFC Dewayne T. Williams (T-AK-3009) from the U.S. Navy, will conduct a series of cooperative evolutions ashore and at-sea. Joint evolutions are designed to highlight the ability for both navies to work together in ensuring maritime security, stability and prosperity.

“The long-standing partnership between Bangladesh and the United States has contributed to peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” said Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander of Task Force 73. “These engagements reflect our shared belief that regional challenges increasingly require cooperative solutions by capable naval forces.”

“We all understand the complexities of the maritime domain, and we need collaborative initiatives for all like CARAT,” said Rear Adm. M Abu Ashraf, commander, Chattogram Naval Area. “Our bond between our two navies will continue to develop; mutual cooperation will further enlarge.”

The sea phase will encompass complex scenarios in the Bay of Bengal to include a tracking exercise aimed at increasing both navies’ ability to together track and pursue targets through the coordinated deployment of surface ships and maritime patrol aircrafts, division tactics designed to enhance communication as ships sail together in complex maneuvers, and a screening exercise to increase proficiency of ships to defend from potential threats.

“Bangladesh is highly privileged to host CARAT,” said Rear. Adm. Mohammad Nazmul Hassan, commander, Bangladesh Navy Fleet. “Like previous years, I’m sure CARAT 2018 will be a great source of learning for all of our officers.”

The shore phase will involve symposiums across the full spectrum of naval capabilities that provide opportunities for both navies to share knowledge and experiences with each other ranging from gas turbine maintenance and aviation warfare to medical and legal subject matter exchanges. Marines will also conduct joint training such as techniques in house clearing and raid operations.

“CARAT Bangladesh scenarios are tailored with inputs from the U.S. and Bangladesh Navy to meet evolving threats through exchanges such as in explosive ordnance disposal, Marine tactics and dive operations, in addition to being a venue to improve best practices in information sharing and maritime domain awareness,” said Lt.j.g. Ben Ralen, U.S. lead planner of CARAT Bangladesh.

Along with the annual CARAT exercise, the U.S. and Bangladesh Navy continue to participate in a growing number of bilateral and multilateral maritime exercises including this year’s 17th annual Southeast Asia Cooperation Training (SEACAT) and 26th biennial Rim of Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise. Maritime exercises conducted between both partner navies are designed to address the full spectrum of maritime operations with CARAT focusing on maritime security operations and SEACAT on information sharing and maritime domain awareness.

“We value the Bangladesh Navy’s persistence in increasing the sophistication and complexity each year - a direct result of the strong and mature partnership that our nations and our navies share,” said Capt. Ann McCann, deputy commodore for Destroyer Squadron 7. “We look forward to conducting more exercises, more frequently, in more complex and sophisticated scenarios that incorporate an even wider range of maritime capabilities and address more shared interests and goals.”

With nearly a half century of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Bangladesh, this year marks the 24th anniversary of the CARAT exercise series with bilateral engagements between a dozen ally and partner nations including Bangladesh, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

In this file photo, U.S. Navy and Bangladesh Navy sailors conduct conduct visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) training during a previous CARAT Bangladesh exercise. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Jay C. Pugh)