The inauguration of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Exercise-2021 popularly known as CARAT got underway at Naval Dockyard, Trincomalee under real-time virtual setting today (24th June 2021). Working shoulder-to-shoulder in their commitment to expand relationships and broaden maritime awareness, this year’s exercise is joined by the Sri Lanka Navy, United States 7th Fleet and Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF). The sequential phases of this naval exercise are scheduled to take place until 30th June 2021 in the Trincomalee harbour and off the eastern coast of Sri Lanka.
Among the main objectives of CARAT–21; enhancing maritime engagement and interoperability, fostering greater coordination in shared maritime challenges, gaining a better understanding of the operational environment, enhancing mutual capability in maritime security cooperation, operating in line with international law, norms and standards, facilitating the linkages between maritime components and law enforcement authorities as well as deepening partnership among the Sri Lanka Navy, US Navy and Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force are chief.
The harbour phase of this multi-lateral naval exercise is scheduled to be held in a virtual setting on 24th and 25th June in the Trincomalee harbour, whereas the sea phase of CARAT–21 will be held from 26th to 30th June off Trincomalee. Reverting back to real-time virtual meetings, the closing ceremony will be held on 30th June at the Naval Dockyard, Trincomalee.
Addressing the partners of CARAT–21virtually in today’s opening ceremony, Deputy Chief of Staff and Commander Eastern Naval Area, Rear Admiral YN Jayarathne extended them warm welcome on behalf of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, Ministry of Defence and Government of Sri Lanka. Adding further he expressed that, through engagement of this nature of exercises, it would further maritime security cooperation with rest of the mission partners and he also underlined the aspiration of the Ministry of Defence and Government of Sri Lanka for Navy to hone professionalism in partnership with regional and extra regional players to securing the ocean.
The naval exercise will feature a variety of joint training opportunities, to include Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), Maritime Aviation, Replenishment at Sea (RAS), Surface TRACKEX, Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS), Search and Rescue (SAREX) and a wide range of naval exercises which are expected to be conducted adhering to COVID-19 protocols in effect due to pandemic concerns.
Representing the Sri Lanka Navy, the Offshore Patrol Vessels- SLNS Sayurala and Gajabahu are taking part in CARAT–21, whereas Sri Lanka Air Force is providing air assets that of Bell 212 and 412 helicopters as well as B 200 Beechcraft for the exercise. Working through coordinated deployment of naval and air assets; the United States 7th Fleet augments the exercise with USS Charleston (LCS 18) – a Littoral Combat Ship, Boeing P-8 Poseidon – a Maritime Patrol Aircraft and an MH-60S helicopter. Apart from that JDS Yugiri – a destroyer and an MH – 60R helicopter from the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force are also expected to join the exercise.
Deputy Chief of Staff of Sri Lanka Navy and Commander Eastern Naval Area, Rear Admiral YN Jayarathne, Flag Office Commanding Naval Fleet, Rear Admiral Sajith Gamage, Deputy Area Commander Eastern Naval Area, Commodore Janaka Nishshanka, Director Naval Operations, Commodore Nishantha Peiris, Commanding Officer SLNS Sayurala, Captain Sanjeewa Perera, Commanding Officer SLNS Gajabahu, Captain Harsha De Silva, Naval Attaché of the United States Embassy in Sri Lanka, Lieutenant Commander Richard Lister, officials of the US Embassy in Colombo and a limited group of officers from the Navy Headquarters and Eastern Naval Area were present on the opening ceremony.
Meanwhile, taking part in naval exercises of this nature would open up new avenues for the Sri Lanka Navy to share different knowledge, strategies and experience as well as to build trust and strong relationships to step up the readiness and interoperability that allows partner nations to work closely with navies across the region. This will also enable the Navy to utilize its resources effectively to ensure the security of the island waters as well as to provide relief to the distressed naval and fishing communities in Sri Lanka’s Search and Rescue Region.