The US Navy today began a military exercise at the Hambantota Port which is managed by China.
Commander, Task Force 73 announced the beginning of the 25th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the armed forces of partner nations.
CARAT, the U.S. Navy’s oldest and longest continually-running regional exercise in South Asia and Southeast Asia, strengthens partnerships between regional navies and enhances maritime security cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific.
The CARAT series began at sea in Sri Lanka, where U.S. Sailors and Marines join the Sri Lanka Armed Forces to conduct partnered training focused on building interoperability and strengthening relationships, along with sharing best practices.
The week-long exercise at the Hamantota port will offer Sailors and Marines a chance to conduct underwater diving sessions, combat lifesaving training and practice small boat maneuvers. Navy Seabees will also be working with the Sri Lankan Navy civil engineering branch to renovate an elementary school in the nearby area, the US Navy said.
Sri Lankan Sailors will have the chance to serve aboard Navy vessels for hands-on learning during the at-sea phase of the exercise to increase interoperability between the two countries.
U.S. assets participating include the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 90), Military Sealift Command expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3) and a P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol craft.
The US has consistently raised concerns over the Hambantota Port saying it maybe used by China for military purposes.