15 Juni 2011

Joint Navy Exercise Reels Off

16 Juni 2011

USS Safeguard, designated as the COI for the participating Southeast Asian Navies (photo : navsource)

COMBINED navy forces from the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the United States Navy is holding a 10-day annual combined exercise aimed to enhance interoperability and share best practices.

Codenamed SEACAT 2011, the exercise is joined by the Philippine Navy (PN) units from the Naval Forces West (NFW), Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM), and Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) areas of responsibility (AOR) in succession with five Southeast Asian Navies from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

They will participate together with the US Navy in a scenario-driven fleet training exercise against terrorism, transnational crimes and other maritime threats which focuses on real time information exchange, coordinated surveillance operations, tracking, and eventual conduct of Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) to the maritime Contact of Interest (COI).

“This activity will involve surface, air, and special operations units in the conduct of surveillance, tracking, and boarding of the COI from the different participating navies within their respective maritime territories,” SEACAT 2011 exercise director Philippine Navy Captain Sebastian Pan said.

Three ships from the three Naval forces of the Philippine Navy will participate in this year’s SEACAT 2011 exercise, Pan added.

As practiced in the yearly SEACAT, Pan said that several ships from each participating Southeast Asian navy will join the training with the one US Navy ship--USS Safeguard--designated as the COI for the participating Southeast Asian Navies.

In the Philippines, he said one Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO) scenario with boarding opportunity will be conducted at the Sulu and Mindanao Seas.

At the same time, Coast Watch stations in the different participating Naval Forces AORs will be utilized to exercise their capabilities in surveillance, tracking, communications, and operations.

Exercise SEACAT is a yearly combined exercise conducted at vital sea lanes in Southeast Asia to ensure control of vital sea lanes from terrorists, poachers, and transnational lawless elements.

Venues have been determined in advance during coordinated planning sessions and are finalized following confirmation from all participating navies.

“This exercise aims to promote regional coordination, information sharing and interoperability in a multilateral environment,” Pan said.

With this training, Pan said the Philippine Navy will be able to enhance regional coordination, information sharing, and combined inter-operability capability with participating navies in the region, tests its personnel and naval assets operational readiness and ultimately, improve the defense capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The combined exercise, dubbed Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) started Tuesday, June 14, and ends on Friday, June 24, is being held in Malacca Strait, Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea.

(SunStar)

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