U.S. Captain praises Thai Navy during joint drills



US and Thai ships transit the Gulf of Thailand during CARAT Thailand 2011. Image Credit: U.S. Navy Photo


The professionalism of the Royal Thai Navy and its performance during joint drills has improved and is on a par in many respects with the United States Navy, the commander of the U.S. Navy’s Destroyer Squadron Seven said during the Guardian Sea bilateral naval exercises last week.

The five-day joint exercises focused on hunting down and destroying submarines, and underscored the continuing cooperation between the U.S. Navy and its counterpart from Thailand – the oldest treaty ally of the United States in Asia and one that has supported the U.S. in conflicts such as the wars in Korea and Viet Nam. The exercises took place in the Andaman Sea off Thailand’s western coast.

Captain H.B. Le, commodore of the U.S. Navy’s Destroyer Squadron Seven said the exercises were an opportunity to strengthen ties between Thailand and the United States, in addition to giving Thai Navy personnel a chance to train with, use the equipment of and practice submarine warfare techniques with the U.S. Navy.

The American Navy dispatched the USS San Francisco, a Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine; the guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem; and a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to take part in the drills. The Thai Navy fielded the HTMS Chakri Naruebet, HTMS Taksin and HTMS Naresuan of the Thai navy were all dispatched to join the exercise, along with anti-submarine S-70B Seahawk helicopters.

Capt. Le said the Thai Navy is known for effective management of data transmission systems, noting that newly installed sonar systems on HTMS Taksin and HTMS Naresuan were chosen for their potential to detect submarines and coordinate attacks on a par with U.S. Navy vessels. He added that this year’s exercise was “the most complex to date.”

“Guardian Sea provides our navies the opportunity and challenge of detecting and tracking submarines, and to practice procedures related to anti-submarine warfare,” Le said.

The exercise included a shore phase with seminars and exchanges between experts from both navies.

“Guardian Sea is an excellent opportunity to operate at sea in a realistic training environment with our friends and partners in the Royal Thai Navy,” said Cmdr. Doug Pegher, the Stethem’s commanding officer. “Our sailors gain valuable experiences from these engagements, and we build important maritime relationships that endure beyond the exercise.”

Rear Admiral Vasinsan Chantavarin of the Thai Navy said “the exercise was beneficial to the navy on multiple issues, from reviewing our work and testing newly installed systems, particularly submarine detection, as well as learning about an ally with new technology.”