The Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) completed its first-ever Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines, ahead of bilateral CARAT engagements with other Asian partners later this year.
Fort Worth and two Philippine ships, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), spent two days exercising in the Sulu Sea, according to a Navy statement. The CARAT event focused on combined operations at sea and maritime domain awareness, and included training events on tactical combat casualty care (TCCC), visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS), gunnery exercises, maneuvering in formation, air defense and search and rescue.
The Philippine Navy also used the time together to conduct deck landing qualifications on the LCS’s flight deck.
Fort Worth will refuel in Subic Bay, Philippines, before returning to the South China Sea for routine patrols. In mid-July the LCS will participate in another CARAT exercise with Singapore.
CARAT began in 1995 and comprises a series of annual bilateral exercises with various South and Southeast Asian nations. Later this year, U.S. forces will conduct CARAT exercises with Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
Fort Worth departed San Diego for a 16-month deployment in November and has so far performed better than expected in terms of operational availability and maintenance requirements. The ship skipped a maintenance availability to help search for the missing Air Asia Flight 8501 in January. And it has kept busy with its South China Sea patrols and exercises with Vietnam, South Korea and more.