SATTAHIP, Thailand (NNS) -- U.S. Navy and Royal Thai Navy (RTN) air crews shared shallow water mine laying techniques July 5 in the skies above the Gulf of Thailand during exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT).
Both U.S. and Royal Thai Navy crews deployed two MK 62 "Quickstrike" mines apiece, which will be hunted by RTN minesweepers during the at-sea portion of CARAT.
According to Lt. Cmdr. Dennis Callahan, officer in charge of the 23-person P-3C detachment from Patrol Squadron (VP) 46 taking part in the Thailand phase of CARAT, working with the RTN during the exercise event was a great opportunity for air crews, maintainers, planners and tactical support personnel.
"Every bit of interaction is always a great exchange of knowledge when we have the opportunity to work with different countries such as Thailand," Callahan said before the mine laying mission. "In this particular case, while our aircraft, the P-3 Orion, and Thai F-27 are similar, there's good sharing of the different types of radar and other equipment being used, as each of the planes flying will have a two-man observance team on board from the other nation."
The RTN F-27s are a smaller version of the P-3C Orion with twin turbo prop engines vice the four on the American plane.
Although the P-3C Orion crews' primary mission is normally anti-submarine warfare with the use of sonar buoys, maritime patrol and amphibious raid support, according to Callahan, the mine laying mission is not out of the ordinary for P-3Cs.
Spending only one hour "on deck," or in the air, the VP-46 crew dropped their mines first at coordinates predetermined by a RTN control ship, HTMS Bangrachan.
As is standard practice by the U.S. Navy, each plane made a total of three passes on the drop site, ensuring sea lanes were open and clear of any maritime vessels.
The crew proceeded with an on-target drop from both the port and starboard wings at an altitude of 500 feet and a speed of 250 knots before returning to the airfield.
VP-46 is based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
CARAT is a regularly scheduled series of bilateral military training exercises with several Southeast Asia nations designed to enhance interoperability of the respective sea services. The Thailand phase began June 30. The Singapore phase was conducted May 31-June 11, while the Brunei phase took place June 21-26. Other nations participating in the exercise series this year include Malaysia and the Philippines.
For more on CARAT, visit www.clwp.navy.mil/carat2004.
For related news, visit the Logistics Group Western Pacific Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/clwp.