Thursday, October 8, 2009

CARAT To Feature Singaporean Sub

Defense News


CARAT To Feature Singaporean Sub

By Wendell Minnick

SINGAPORE — For the first time, U.S. and Singaporean submarines are operating together in a sub­tracking exercise at the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) event, running June 8-19 with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), the U.S. Navy (USN) and U.S. Coast Guard.

“For 2009, we’ve added an under­sea warfare element — a U.S. attack submarine, USS City of Corpus Christi, is operating in concert with a Republic of Singapore Navy submarine, conducting a series of coordinated tracking exercises with our surface ships,” said Capt. William Kearns, commander of Task Group 73.5.

Singapore usually invites other Southeast Asian countries, such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, to the annual exercise, but this year the exercise is primarily with U.S. forces.

“This series of sequential exercises was formed with the aim of scheduling previously unrelated bilateral exercises between the U.S. Armed Forces and regional navies, in order to make more efficient use of assets and forces from all parties,” said a Singapore Ministry of Defence press release.

This year’s edition of the 14-year old event is focused on convention­al maritime warfare competencies in the areas of anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine warfare, maritime air operations and maritime security operations. It involves 1,500 per­sonnel, 11 ships, two submarines, and 18 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft from Singapore and the United States. The RSN will fire a Mistral surface-to-air missile.

The CARAT exercise exhibits a level of “technological and operational interoperability between the RSN and the USN which would not be possible between the USN and any other Southeast Asian navy,” said Sam Bateman, senior fellow, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, here.

“They send a clear message that the RSN is up in the ‘major league’ of global and regional navies and well ahead of the navies of Singapore’s Southeast Asian neighbors,” Bateman said. “This has already been demonstrated, for example, by the RSN’s participation in a RIM­PAC [Rim of the Pacific] exercise.”

This level of interoperability with the U.S. Navy is largely because of Singapore’s “submarines and high­tech frigates providing capabilities across a range of ‘blue-water’ operations,” Bateman said.

He said that capability would help in many potential situations, including “peacetime, naval peace­keeping and anti-piracy operations in waters possibly well distant from Singapore, and ... SLOC [sea-lines of communication] protection in times of tension or conflict.” Bob Nugent, vice president for advisory services at AMI International, said CARAT’s training scenarios, which go beyond traditional naval warfare skills, reflect the “wider sets of missions and tasks that regional navies like the RSN can expect from their national leaders in the future.”

Humanitarian assistance and maritime security training events in CARAT echo the demands on navies in the Asia-Pacific region.

“But more importantly, CARAT develops personal relationships which translate directly into operational efficiencies,” Kearns said. “Our sailors are working — in some cases living — side by side with their RSN counterparts.

By working together so closely, even if for just two weeks, we gain a better understanding of each other’s organizational structure, procedures and operational capabilities.

“CARAT improves interoperability between our navies by exercising our traditional CARAT training elements, such as surface gunnery events and missile shoots, including more complex naval warfare competencies,” Kearns said.

Nugent said CARAT shows how Singapore is “not only acquiring increasingly capable ... platforms, but investing to achieve real capability with them — the kind of capability that comes from sustained training and operations at sea.”

In conjunction with CARAT, the RSN and the Swedish Navy conducted their 14th annual bilateral Mine-Countermeasure Exchange Program from June 1 to June 11 in Karlskrona, Sweden.