ADMM-PLUS navies strengthen maritime security cooperation in multinational exercise

Over the past two weeks, 19 ships and 10 aircraft from the 18 ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM)-Plus nations worked together on a series of exercises to enhance their cooperation in the event of a transnational maritime security threat.

Held from 30 Apr to 13 May, the fourth Maritime Security Field Training Exercise (MS FTX) was co-organised by Singapore and the Republic of Korea (ROK).

“The exercise is a key milestone of Singapore and ROK’s co-chairmanship of the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Maritime Security,” said exercise co-director and Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) Head of Naval Operations Rear-Admiral (RADM) Edwin Leong.

“It brings our navies together to collaborate across a spectrum of maritime security operations…(and) enhances our collective capability to address maritime security threats in the region and to keep our sea lines of communication open and secure for all.”

The sea phase of the MS FTX began in the waters off Busan, ROK. In one exercise scenario, a ship was suspected to be transporting armed personnel and dangerous weapons. 

A distress signal was picked up by the Information Fusion Centre (IFC) in Singapore, and the perpetrators were found to be uncooperative.

After receiving information from the IFC, ships from the various navies, including RSN frigate RSS Stalwart, quickly formed a cordon around the distressed ship. 

An ROK Navy (ROKN) Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) rappelled down via a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to apprehend the gunmen. At the same time, a boarding team from RSS Stalwart was despatched to support the mission and swiftly secured the ship’s engine room.

“I was impressed by the (boarding and search exercise). Even though the sea was rough, the Singapore boarding team could still do it very well,” said Lieutenant Commander Le Thanh Binh from the Vietnam People’s Navy, an observer on board landing ship tank ROKS Cheonjabong. 

“Nowadays, there are a lot of challenges and threats at sea…which cannot be addressed by any single nation (alone). So the collective multinational effort becomes more and more important,” added the 35-year-old staff officer from the Division of Naval Operations, Navy Headquarters. Singapore MINDEF