Southeast Asian naval drill SEACAT kicks off

Sailors from the Royal Malaysian Navy corvette KD Kelantan (175) approach fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappanhannock to conduct a simulated boarding inspection during the SEACAT exercise. Photo: US Navy

A naval exercise gathering navy and coast guard officers from a number of Southeast Asian countries kicked off  in Singapore, Brunei, and the Philippines on August 21.

In its 16th iteration, the annual Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) exercise focuses on shared maritime security challenges of the region.

The goal of the exercise is to increase multilateral cooperation and information sharing among navies and coast guards across South and Southeast Asia. The exercise is supported by the US navy and will continue through September 1.

“SEACAT brings nations together for meaningful dialogue, knowledge sharing, and practical training to address common challenges of piracy, sea smuggling, and other illegal activities at sea,” said Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific (COMLOGWESTPAC). “We appreciate that regional nations see the value in working together, evidenced by a growing number of participants. This year’s exercise includes eleven nations, with multiple agencies in each country.”

SEACAT features a series of tailored workshops, information exchanges, and boarding operations at sea that rehearse scenarios relating to piracy, sea smuggling, and maritime domain awareness.

This year’s exercise will feature liaison officers from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and the United States who will operate from Singapore’s Multinational Operations and Exercises Centre (MOEC).

Additional personnel from the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, and the United States will operate from Brunei’s Multinational Coordination Center (MNCC) and U.S. Coast Guard personnel will conduct a comprehensive boarding workshop in Manila with the Philippine Coast Guard, alongside boarding teams from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, and Indonesia.

The sea phase of the exercise will include seven boarding operations across three vessels including the expeditionary fast transport USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3). Boarding teams from multiple nations will train in real-world at-sea environments as a way to understand and develop each other’s boarding tactics, techniques and procedures.

SEACAT, which began in 2002 under the name “Southeast Asia Cooperation Against Terrorism,” was renamed in 2012 to expand the scope of training among regional navies and coast guards.

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