Bangladesh and US on Wednesday has launched the 'Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Bangladesh 2020' exercise in the Bay of Bengal.
According to a press release issued by the US embassy in Dhaka, The CARAT exercise series, celebrating its 26th anniversary, is designed to address shared maritime security concerns and strengthen partnerships between regional navies. Bangladesh has been a participant since 2011.
M Mahbub-Ul Islam, commander, Bangladesh Navy Fleet Rear Admiral presided over the opening ceremony on Wednesday, added the press release.
He said mutual cooperation and partnership is essential to maintain safety of the maritime domain.
"The CARAT exercise, enhancing cooperation, forging the ties of friendship, and strengthening professional interoperability, has become a unique forum to work with the U.S. Navy," he said.
Rear Admiral Fred Kacher, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7 said, "We will continue to operate with and learn from the Bangladesh Navy and we stand shoulder-to-shoulder in our commitment to a free and open maritime."
Capt Ann McCann, commodore, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7 said, "We are continuing to grow U.S.-Bangladesh cooperation and training foundation through virtual means and at sea."
Historically, CARAT exercises involve people-to-people interactions and relationships through a variety of professional exchanges and symposia, subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs), community relations projects, and social events.
But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year's exercise events were planned virtually and current SMEEs will take place online, using real-time virtual meetings.
Bangladesh marks the second CARAT exercise in 2020 for US, following CARAT Brunei in the South China Sea, during 5-9 Oct.
This marks the first year that CARAT Bangladesh is being supported by United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Bali Process Regional Support Office. Through its interregional approach, UNODC educates and offers practical and technical assistance to combat maritime crime, including trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants. Meanwhile, the Bali Process supports efforts to protect migrants at sea and explores cooperative approaches to confront the scourge of people smuggling and trafficking of persons.
The sea phase of CARAT 202 is designed to enhance interoperability between the two navies. Ships from both sides will participate in a gunnery exercise, rehearse division tactics, man overboard and search and rescue procedures, and RAS approaches, all designed to enhance communication sail together in complex maneuvers.