Thailand and the US have started the joint naval exercise Guardian Sea 2019 in the Andaman Sea to improve interoperability and boost anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
The start of the eighth Guardian Sea was marked by an opening ceremony on the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) frigate HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Assets to take part in the exercise include a US Navy Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, underway replenishment oiler, along with two RTN frigates, a corvette, and Sea Hawk helicopter.
These assets will perform several activities aimed at incorporating shared techniques in real-world, at-sea environments.
Destroyer Squadron 7 commodore captain Matt Jerbi said: “The US and Royal Thai Navy continues to work closely in anti-submarine warfare towards building upon our already-established combined capabilities.
“Guardian Sea 2019 is a premier exercise that demonstrates our commitment to each other in ensuring that we are ready to counter any threats together, both above and underwater.”
The RTN will also deploy a towed array sonar on Bhumibol Adulyadej as part of the exercise to create more advanced training objectives. The sonar is used to detect undersea contacts, including submarines.
Submarine Group Seven commander rear admiral Jimmy Pitts said: “This is the kind of training our sailors practice for at home and implement at sea. We’re excited for the opportunity to showcase the skills our crews have honed and sharing our best practices with our Thai Navy counterparts.”
The exercise will involve two phases. The first will be carried on shore and consists of subject matter expert exchanges, covering anti-submarine warfare.
The navies will then move to the sea phase that culminates with tracking a submarine, while protecting a surface ship in a ‘free-play’ event.
Alongside Guardian Sea, the US and Thailand participate in other engagements and exercises, including Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), Pacific Partnership, South East Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), as well as Cobra Gold.
The key objectives of these engagements are increasing information sharing and coordination, building mutual combat capabilities and enhancing regional cooperation.