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US trains with Southeast Asian nations to visit, board, search and seize ships

A Royal Thai Navy sailor, right, a Philippine coast guardsman, center, and a Royal Thai Marine police officer practice tactical procedures during Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training in Manila, Philippines, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018.

MICAH BLECHNER/U.S. NAVY

By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 31, 2018

The Navy, Coast Guard and personnel from eight partner nations are training to visit, board, search and seize vessels in Southeast Asia.

The 17th annual South East Asia Cooperation and Training, or SEACAT, exercise, which began Monday and runs through Sept. 7, involves sailors and coast guardsmen from Bangladesh, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Three vessels will take part in 15 boarding operations at sea along with 100 personnel from multiple nations, the Navy’s Singapore-based Task Force 73 commander Rear Adm. Joey Tynch told reporters, according to a transcript of a telephone press conference Thursday.

Tynch declined to identify the location of the at-sea training; however, Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper said it was taking place in the South China Sea, the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.

A Navy statement said the exercise would incorporate increasingly complex maritime interdiction scenarios to emphasize “real world, real time” practice.

“Based on the situation, ships and aircrafts from participating navies and coast guards including the U.S. Navy’s P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will investigate and conduct at-sea boardings as necessary,” the statement said.

Personnel will practice sharing information from maritime operations centers in Brunei, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, Tynch said.

“We all need to share the same maritime picture so that we can identify and enforce the same maritime laws – rules-based order requires maritime domain awareness,” he said.

robson.seth@stripes.com
Twitter: @SethRobson1

 

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