As part of the 27th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) series, CARAT Bangladesh 2021 concluded Dec. 9, following nine days of virtual, in-person and at-sea engagements that enhanced collaboration between the Bangladesh Navy and U.S. Navy and focused on shared maritime security challenges of the region. U.S. assets participating in CARAT Bangladesh included the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Tulsa (LCS 16) and embarked MH-60S Seahawk helicopter of Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) Squadron 21. U.S. personnel included staff from Commander Task Force (CTF) 72, CTF 75, CTF 76, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, U.S. 7th Fleet Band and U.S. Embassy Dhaka. The virtual subject matter expert exchange events featured a variety of joint training opportunities, to include maritime aviation, maritime domain awareness (MDA), Women, Peace & Security (WPS) symposium, and EOD and mine countermeasures.
The exercise focused on the full spectrum of naval capabilities and featured cooperative evolutions that highlight the ability of Bangladesh and the U.S. to work together towards the common goal of ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific. The at-sea phase took place in the Bay of Bengal, where U.S. Navy assets were joined by ships and aircraft from the Bangladesh Navy for partnered training focused on building interoperability and strengthening relationships. The exercise featured complex at-sea training to demonstrate the bilateral force’s ability to work together through numerous events including divisional tactics designed to practice maneuvering as ships sail together in complex formations. The intergovernmental organization personnel from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) provided training through their Global Maritime Crime Programme, and the Bali Process Regional Support Office (BP-RSO) provided subject matter expertise on combatting people smuggling and human trafficking by sea.
“I am confident that this visit of USS Tulsa, including performing exercises with Bangladesh Navy at sea, is a milestone in enhancing the relationship between our navies in greater mutual maritime cooperation. Frequent interaction by naval diplomacy of such kind, gives us an opportunity to exchange views and nourish our relations,” said Capt. A. N. M. Ishtiaq Jahan Farouqee, commanding officer of Bangladesh Navy guided missile frigate BNS Bangabandhu (F 25).
“As maritime nations with a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, we used CARAT to contribute to regional maritime security by enhancing our ability to work side-by-side at sea as well as in the planning process,” said Capt. Tom Ogden, commodore, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7.
The CARAT exercise series, celebrating its 27th anniversary, is designed to address shared maritime security concerns and strengthens partnerships between regional navies. With nearly a half century of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Bangladesh, the two countries continue to work closely together to advance a shared vision of a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and secure Indo-Pacific. As the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed destroyer squadron in Southeast Asia, DESRON 7 serves as the primary tactical and operational commander of littoral combat ships rotationally deployed to Singapore, functions as ESG 7’s Sea Combat Commander, and builds partnerships through training exercises and military-to-military engagements. Under Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.