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17TH SOUTHEAST ASIA COOPERATION AND TRAINING EXERCISES

PH Navy special operations group to join US, others in maritime drills

/ 07:06 AM August 31, 2018

The Philippine Navy has deployed its special operations group to take part in annual maritime exercises with the United States and other Southeast Asian countries aimed at building maritime domain awareness in the region.

The Philippines, according to Cmdr. Jonathan Zata, the Navy spokesperson, is participating in the 17th Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (Seacat) exercises, which started on Monday.

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“We have earmarked one patrol ship and a fast frigate plus aircraft and teams from our naval special operations group, all currently deployed at the area of responsibility of Naval Forces West based in Puerto Princesa City,” Zata said Thursday.

Exercises

“There will be maritime air surveillance and maritime interdiction exercises,” he said, adding that a ship of “notional critical contact of interest” would be tracked, identified and stopped.

“A visit, board, search and seizure exercise will be performed by one of our Navy ships,” Zata said.

In a teleconference on Thursday morning, Rear Adm. Murray Joey Tynch III, commander of the logistics group Western Pacific, Task Force 73, said that Seacat is basically intended to build greater maritime domain awareness among participating countries.

“Seacat confirms our commitment to rules-based order because to have rules-based order you have to have maritime domain awareness,” Tynch said, speaking from Singapore’s information fusion center.

“Because if you don’t know what’s going on, you don’t know if the rules are being followed and you have to have that for security, stability and prosperity in these countries,”  he said, referring to the participants in the exercises—Bangladesh, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Broader scope

“The nature of the exercise reflects the nature of these relationships we have built as they evolve and grow stronger,” he said.

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Seacat, Tynch said, evolved from a counterterrorism exercise to encompass a broader scope of common global security concerns where information sharing is the key point through maritime operations centers set up in the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand.

Taking part in Seacat, which began in 2002 as the Southeast Asia Cooperation Against Terrorism, are maritime domain representatives and 100 sailors  on 13 vessels from the nine participating countries.

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