Singapore - More than 17 years after they first started talking about holding joint exercises at sea, the navies of 14 Pacific Rim countries are finally ready to do it. They will hold their first joint exercise this weekend in the South China Sea.
The participating countries are part of the 18-member Western Pacific Naval Symposium, which was started in 1988 for navies around the Pacific to discuss maritime issues and promote mutual understanding through the exchange of information. The other four members have observer status.
The weekend exercise will involve warships exchanging information electronically with each other and with the aircraft to obtain a clearer picture of what lies beyond their visual horizon.
The navies also hope to improve their ability to cooperate during emergencies, such as mine-clearing work and search-and-rescue cooperations.
Fifteen ships and several maritime patrol planes and helicopters will be taking part in the two-day exercise, one of three events being staged as part of a naval forum being held in Singapore this week.
Singapore Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean said the symposium’s members should “move beyond policy dialogues and seminars to joint maritime security exercises” to enhance maritime security.
* S’pore navy to host 14-nation sea exercise (The Straits Times, May 19)