Officers with the Royal Thai Navy’s Helicopter Anti-Surface Warfare Squadron (HS) 2 participated in a joint training exercise with USS George Washington’s (CVN 73) HS-14 Aug. 5 & 10.
Both squadrons conducted anti-surface warfare (ASW) training on dipping sonar capabilities and search-and-rescue (SAR) techniques during these exercises.
“We began training with HS-14 to learn how to use dipping sonar equipment newly installed on the [Royal Thai Navy’s] S-70 Seahawks,” said Royal Thai Navy Commodore Somkiat Somksawat, Naval Air Division, Royal Thai Navy. “We have learned a lot from HS-14 and are happy to have this opportunity to conduct military-to-military training.”
Seven members of HS-2 visited George Washington for a tour of the ship lead by pilots from HS-14. During the tour, the Thai pilots were shown George Washington’s hangar bay, forecastle, flight deck, navigation bridge and the HS-14 ready room; after the tour, they began training on the U.S. Navy’s methods of conducting SAR exercises.
“We showed our Thai counterparts what our responsibility with George Washington is and what equipment we use in the helicopters including how to identify it and properly use it,” said Lt. Michael Hsu, HS-14’s aviation armament division officer. “We also had a SAR swimmer dressed out to show them the equipment we use during SAR.”
The U.S. and Thai pilots also practiced an example of a SAR scenario when a pilot ejects from the aircraft and needs retrieval, said Hsu.
During the training exercise, HS-14 went over the types of rescue search patterns for day and night rescues, the equipment used to retrieve crash survivors out of the water, survival equipment pilots use and how to calculate all factors of a situation to receive the search area’s radius and the speed at which the rescue must be done.
“We have truly enjoyed this chance to tour the ship with HS-14 and learn from them,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rachan Jaroen, U.S. Task Force 73/Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific theatre security cooperation. “The amount in which both militaries learned during this training was excellent and we look forward to next time.”
According to Jaroen, the training was held as a direct response to the Kingdom of Thailand’s request for a subject matter expert exchange on SAR operations; by conducting these military-to-military exercises, the two countries could increase their bilateral relationship and in the near future help the Royal Thai Navy develop their own SAR officer course.
George Washington spent five days in port in Thailand as an opportunity to strengthen ties with the partner nation. Port visits increase mutual understanding through positive interaction events such as tours of the ship, receptions and sports and community service projects. This supports regional cooperation on common concerns which are of the utmost importance to continued progress.