Logging that Pattaya Beach time

The Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) series of bilateral military exercises conducted between the U.S. Pacific Fleet and allied nations in Southeast Asia, never really gets a lot of attention, although it has been a thing since 1995.

It isn’t anywhere as big and sexy as the biannual RIMPAC exercises, or involves a large dynamic ground force element such as Balikatan, so it doesn’t provide a lot of great images.

However unsung, CARAT allows USPACFLT to interface with all the old SEATO allies in the region at sea but without the 1960s Cold War vibes, although the Chinese are now the proxy for the Soviets.

The current ex has seen the recently completed Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Mobile (LCS 26), in a good sort of flag waving use for the class, hanging out in and around Sattahip, Thailand for CARAT 29 8-16 May.

Besides the normal feel-good ship tours, festivities, and community relations events, Mobile got some underway formation time with three Thai assets that are very interesting in the respect that two are Chinese exported warships and while the third is a rather modern ROK-built vessel.

These included:

HTMS Naresuan (FFG-421), a modified version of the 3,000-ton Chinese-made Type 053 frigate, albeit outfitted with largely 1980s American gear.

HTMS Bangpakong (FFG-456), a 2,000-ton variant of the Chinese-built Type 053H2 frigate complete with YJ-8/C-801 anti-ship missiles and a full Eye Shield/Square Tie/Sun Visor/Rice Lamp sensor/EW suite. While dated, it is always nice to get an up-close look at stuff like that from both ends.

HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej (FFG-471), a 3,700-ton variant of the So Korean Gwanggaeto the Great-class “stealth” frigates. She only entered service a few years ago and has a mix of European sensors and American weapons.

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