A ceremony was held at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base on July 29 morning to launch the 20th Singapore-US Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise.

Channel News Asia quoted Vice-Admiral Robert Thomas of the US Navy (USN) Seventh Fleet as saying at the opening ceremony that the joint exercise is in line with the US’s “rebalancing” of forces in the Asia-Pacific and its commitment to freedom of access on the seas in the region.

According to the Singapore Defence Ministry, Exercise CARAT 2014, conducted from July 29 to August 8, will focus on sharpening conventional maritime warfare capabilities such as anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine operations, as well as maritime air operations.

This year's exercise will feature for the first time a combined torpedo firing by the RSN Formidable-class frigate RSS Stalwart, Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk naval helicopter and a United States Navy (USN) MH-60R Naval Helicopter.

The event will involve a total of 1400 personnel from both countries, together with six ships, a submarine, a naval helicopter and eight aircraft from the RSN and RSAF as well as three ships, a submarine and four naval helicopters from the USN and the US Marine Corps.

Exercise CARAT 2014 will see the inaugural participation of the USN's P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft.-VNA