BAY OF BENGAL
The Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3) took part in the annual Cooperation and Readiness Afloat Training exercise, known as CARAT Bangladesh.
While this marks the 11th time Bangladesh has joined CARAT, the series of bilateral exercises has been conducted for the last 26 years throughout South and Southeast Asia. CARAT is an adaptable, evolving exercise as both U.S. and Bangladesh forces contributed to the plans for the 2020 iteration, based on their shared vision. The exercise aims to promote regional security cooperation, maintain and strengthen maritime partnerships, and enhance interoperability with partner navies, including the Bangladesh Navy Fleet.
“Being able to still execute CARAT 2020 with our Bangladesh partners has proven the strong resiliency that exists between both nations in ensuring the partnership of our navies continues to grow stronger even during challenging times,” said Lt. Alexander Laabs, one of the exercise planners with Destroyer Squadron 7.
“The exercise presented another great opportunity to enhance interoperability between the United States and Bangladesh Navy.”
During the at-sea portion of the exercise, Millinocket and Bangladesh crews worked through numerous events, focusing on tactical maneuvering while concurrently practicing tracking, pursuing targets, and screening for potential threats through the coordinated deployment of surface ships and maritime patrol aircrafts. They took part in a gunnery exercise, rehearsed division tactics, man overboard and search and rescue procedures, and replenishment-at-sea approaches. CARAT planners designed the exercise to enhance communication in complex maneuvers.
“The CARAT series returns immediate value and has proven a long-term investment,” said Capt. Erwin Lao, master of USNS Millinocket.
“CARAT contributes to regional maritime security by enhancing our ability to work side-by-side at sea across a wide range of naval competencies.”
Although the exercise has concluded, the United States and the Millinocket crew remain committed to strengthening this partnership through more frequent and sophisticated engagements.
As always, while underway, the Millinocket crew took precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Typically, CARAT Bangladesh would include members of ships’ crews cross-decking to other ships to get a real sense of how the other participant operates. This year, though, crew members stayed aboard their own ships and communicated in a variety of other methods.