This year’s Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises, which take place off Palawan’s waters, will formally open Monday afternoon with 600 American and Filipino military personnel slated to take part in the bilateral naval maneuvers.
CARAT 2015 public affairs chief Lt. Liezl Vidallon said the opening ceremonies will take place at 1:30 p.m. at Naval Station Apolinario Jalandoni in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.
Three-hundred Philippine Navy sailors will be taking part in the drills along with another 300 from the United States Navy.
CARAT 2015 started last June 18. It is expected to last until June 30.
Filipino ships participating in the 12-day activity include the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) and the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), one AW-109 “Power” helicopter, an Islander aircraft, a Naval Special Operations team, one Marine company and a naval mobile construction battalion.
The American side will be fielding the USS Fort Worth (LCS-3), USS Safeguard (ARS-50), a Lockheed P-3 “Orion” maritime patrol aircraft, a naval expeditionary combat training command, training teams, riverine, EODs and Seabees.
Meanwhile, the latest class of American warship, the USS Fort Worth (LCS-3), a “littoral combat ship,” will be making its first appearance at CARAT 2015.
The LCS-3 is a class of relatively small surface vessels intended for operations in the littoral zone (close to shore) by the United States Navy.
It was “envisioned to be a networked, agile, stealthy surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals.”
The USS Fort Worth, along with the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz, two ex-Hamilton class cutters acquired in 2011 and 2012, respectively, will be conducting gunnery exercises this coming June 21or 22 in the east side of Palawan.
Littoral combat ships (LCSs) have the capabilities of a small assault transport, including a flight deck and hangar for housing two SH-60 or MH-60 Seahawk helicopters, a stern ramp for operating small boats, and the cargo volume and payload to deliver a small assault force with fighting vehicles to a roll-on/roll-off port facility.
Standard armaments include Mark 110 57 mm guns and “rolling airframe missiles,” particularly the RIM 116 small, lightweight, infrared homing surface-to-air missile.
The USS Fort Worth was commissioned on Sept. 22, 2012.
Vidallon said the maneuvers have nothing to do with the ongoing tensions between the Philippines and China at the West Philippine Sea.
Aside from the gunnery exercises, Filipino and American sailors will also conduct helicopter crash and salvage drills, deck-landing qualifications, visit, board, search-and-seizure and weapon system training.
Vidallon added that Filipino naval personnel will also get a chance to see first-hand a “rolling, airframe missile”.
“They will be introducing the weapon to our sailors for familiarization purposes,” she stressed.
Vidallon said the 12-day exercise aims to enhance the inter-operability between the USN and the PN.
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