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MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines and United States navies and coast guard will again conduct joint training exercises in a bid to strengthen partnership and cooperation between the two allies.
The annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2012 will be held in the vicinity of Mindanao Sea or Bohol Sea, which lies between the provinces of Bohol and Leyte and north of Mindanao. The area is under the area of responsibility of the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM).
The exercises will run from July 2 to 10 and will include in-port training, subject matter expertise exchanges (SMEEs), ceremonies and interactions; diving and salvage training at General Santos Bay, Sarangani; and medical/dental/ engineering civic action projects and community relations activities at different locations in General Santos City and Glan, Sarangani Province.
According to Col. Omar Tonsay, Philippine Navy spokesman, this year's CARAT 2012 will involve 450 personnel from the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard; and 500 personnel from the US Navy and Coast Guard.
Units involved are the US Navy, US Coast Guard, Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard surface, air, and special operations units who will conduct shore-based cross training exercises (CTX), diving exercise (DIVEX)/salvage exercise (SALVEX), air operations exercise, and at-sea fleet training exercises (FTX), Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX), as well as friendly sports competitions in volleyball and basketball.
The Philippine Navy sees the exercises as a way to "enhance combined interoperability capability with the US Navy and the Philippine-US Coast Guards, as well as test their personnel and naval assets operational readiness and ultimately, improve the n capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines by an exchange of doctrinal and tactical best practices."
CARAT 2012 will be participated in by Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Magat Salamat (PS20), BRP Miguel Malvar (PS19), BRP Salvador Abcede (PG114), and BRP Teotimo Figuracion (PG389) for the PN; the USS Vandergrift (FFG48) and USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) for the USN; BRP Pampanga (SARV 003) for the PCG; and the USCG WAESCHE (WMSL751) for the USCG. The PN will also employ one PN Islander (PNI 320) while the USN will provide a P3C Orion and a SH-60B Helicopter together with a BO-105CB helicopter from PCG.
The CARAT started back in 1995 and has been a yearly combined exercise conducted at different Naval Forces areas of operations on rotation basis. Venues have been determined a year in advance and are finalized following confirmation from both navies during a final planning conference.
Last year, the exercise was conducted in Sulu Sea area east of Palawan under the Naval Forces West and in Zambales under Naval Forces Northern Luzon the year before that.