On May 23, the United States and Thailand kicked off a bilateral naval exercise in the Andaman Sea.
The U.S. Navy (USN) and the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) kicked off Exercise Guardian Sea, comprising bilateral naval training drills that aim to enhance cooperation in the fields of anti-submarine warfare and maritime domain awareness.
This year’s Guardian Sea exercise features the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63), a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol craft and a Los Angeles-class submarine operating alongside ships and aircraft from the RTN. U.S. Navy personnel from Task Force 73 – the U.S. Navy task force of the Seventh Fleet which coordinates exercises for Southeast Asia – and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7 are also participating in the exercise.
This year’s exercise is “the most complex to date,” Captain H.B. Le, commodore of DESRON 7, said in a statement seen by The Diplomat.
The Guardian Sea exercise features both operations at sea as well as a small shore phase that includes symposia and subject matter expert exchanges between the two navies.
The exercise will provide both navies the opportunity to collaborate on the challenge of detecting and tracking submarines and practice procedures related to anti-submarine warfare. And as with other activities involving the navies between the United States and Thailand – including Cobra Gold as well as the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) series – it allows both sides to enhance cooperation more generally as well as build relationships.
“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 Commodore Doug Pegher, commanding officer of the USS Stethem which is taking part in the exercise. “Our Sailors gain valuable experiences from these engagements and we build important maritime relationships that endure beyond the exercise.”
Exercise Guardian Sea will last until May 27.