Changi Naval Base, Singapore - The 20th annual exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Singapore commenced with an opening ceremony at Changi Naval Base, today.

Vice Adm. Robert Thomas, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, delivered remarks before several hundred participating U.S. Navy Sailors and members of the Republic of Singapore navy. Thomas noted that CARAT Singapore stood out as the premier navy engagement since the exercise series began in 1995.

"Nearly twenty years later, thousands of CARAT Singapore alumni have risen through the ranks of the RSN and the U.S. Seventh Fleet, strengthening our military to military relationship and contributing to regional security and stability in ways that benefit the entire region's maritime nations," said Thomas.

Continuing through Aug. 8, CARAT Singapore 2014 consists of 11 days of shore-based exchanges and a highly complex at-sea phase. During the shore phase, personnel will conduct engineering, aviation, culinary and sports exchanges on the Changi Naval Base waterfront. U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and RSN boarding teams will conduct maritime security training at the Singapore Police Coast Guard Brani Base.

During the five-day sea phase, guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Halsey (DDG 97) with embarked helicopters, the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204), a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and a fast attack submarine will train with an RSN task group composed of Formidable-class frigates, Victory-class corvettes, Fearless-class patrol vessels, an F-50 Fokker maritime patrol aircraft and an S-70B helicopter.

"CARAT Singapore brings together some of our most capable forces to train with our RSN partners," said Rear Adm. Charlie Williams, commander, Task Force 73 and 7th Fleet's executive agent for Theater Security Cooperation in South and Southeast Asia.

"Not only do we have two destroyers and, for the first time, a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, but Destroyer Squadron Seven is leading the CARAT Task Group for the second consecutive year while forward deployed to Southeast Asia," Williams said during a press conference with international media.

Capt. Fred Kacher, Destroyer Squadron 7 commodore, noted that he looked forward to getting underway with his RSN counterpart, Col. Ken Cheung, commander, 1st Flotilla, and the opportunity for more than 1,400 personnel from both navies to work together.

"From maritime security training, to anti-air and anti-submarine exercises, to cross-platform personnel exchanges, CARAT helps us strengthen our ability to work together and develops young, culturally adept leaders who will lead our Navy's next generation in this very important maritime region," said Kacher.

In its 20th year, CARAT Singapore is part of a series of bilateral naval exercises between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the armed forces of nine partner nations in South and Southeast Asia.