US-Bangladesh joint naval exercise begins at Bay of Bengal

The US Navy’s newest and most advanced P-8 marine aircraft will fly over international waters with Bangladesh’s recently inducted DORNIER-228 maritime patrol aircraft this week for the first time.

Nurul Islam Hasibfrom
Published : 25 Sept 2014, 11:25 AM
Updated : 25 Sept 2014, 11:25 AM

The announcement came on Thursday as the US and Bangladesh navies began their six-day joint annual exercise both on shore and off the Bay of Bengal.

Both patrol aircraft flying together would enhance “maritime domain awareness”, Rear Admiral Charles Williams, who is the Commander of Task Force 73 and US 7th Fleet’s executive agent for theatre security co-operation in South Asia, said.

He opened the joint training at Naval Base Issa Khan along with Commander of Chittagong Naval Area Rear Admiral Akhtar Habib.

The P-8 aircraft which is parked at Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong is a specially designed naval aircraft that conducts both anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, among its numerous roles.

Bangladesh’s marine patrol aircraft, DORNIER-228, bought from Germany’ is mainly being used for maritime surveillance with its advanced radar and navigation systems and specialist sensors for a variety of roles.

Both sides believe this will take the naval aviation training to the next level.

The annual exercise known as Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) is the bilateral exercise series between US Navy and nine countries of the South and Southeast Asia, including Bangladesh.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of this exercise which is designed to address shared maritime security priorities, develop bonds, and enhance co-operation among the participating countries.

The exercise mostly focuses on non-traditional threats that littoral countries face including disasters and piracy.

The Bangladesh episode is fourth of its kind as the country is a new participant.

“Bangladesh Navy is highly privileged to get this exercise,” Commodore Commanding Bangladesh Navy Flotilla Khaled Iqbal said at the opening.
He said the exercise had become a “huge source of learning”.
“It also helps in trust building and makes the relations stronger.”
Rear Admiral Habib said the exercise opened up “a new avenue in our inter-operability”.
“It also helps develop inter-personal relations,” he said.
Though Bangladesh is a relatively new CARAT participant, Rear Admiral Williams said it had quickly become “the premier engagement between our navies and reflects our shared commitment to regional maritime security”.
During the exercise in the Bay, the US navy’s diving ship ‘Safeguard’ will join the Bangladesh navy’s BNS Bangabandhu, BNS Somudro Joy and AW-109 naval helicopter.
Somudro Joy, which was a US Coast Guard cutter before being transferred to Bangladesh navy last year, will join this training for the first time.
Bangladesh navy currently patrols the maritime area using this ship twice or thrice a month.
The naval professionals will share best practices and practice cooperation in many naval competencies ashore and at sea.
Various symposiums will provide opportunities to discuss naval tactics, military law and military medicine.
The US Navy divers and explosives ordnance disposal technicians will train alongside their counterparts in the Bangladesh navy’s Special Warfare Diving and Salvage unit.
The US embassy in a media statement said it would support Bangladesh’s ongoing “consolidation of security from the port of Chittagong to inter-coastal waterways”.
This year, medicare has been included in the exercise as part of social activities.
Legal and medical professionals of both navies will exchange best practices during military law and medicine symposia.
Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste are the other countries with whom the US navy conducts this bilateral exercise.
US ambassador in Bangladesh Dan Mozena will join the closing ceremony on Sep 30.
Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher