BRP Apolinario Mabini seize ‘hostile’ US Navy vessel in SEACAT

Philippine Navy vessel Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Apolinario Mabini (PS32), approached the United States Navy Ship (USNS) Millinocket (JHSV-3), October 6, to conduct a simulated visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) with the American vessel posing as hostile vessel suspected of transporting weapons and narcotics, Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office said.

The said exercise was conducted as part of multilateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) 2015 participated by Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, US and Singapore navies. As part of SEACAT, a combined US and Southeast Asian Anti-Piracy Task Group was formed composed of Liaison Officers from seven navies and stationed at the Changi C2 Centre in Singapore.

“Tidbits of information from Interpol, regional information fusion centers, news broadcasts, etc. trickled in to the Liaison Officers on the watchfloor, and only through an abundance of cooperation and information sharing was the picture clear enough for regional navies to conduct boardings at sea,” ask Force 73, US 7th Fleet Foreign Area Officer CDR Greg Adams said.

The field at-sea training is carried out in each country’s territorial waters. In Philippines, the exercise was conducted within the area of responsibility of Naval Forces North West (NFNW) which is the West Philippine Sea (WPS) area, in vicinity off Subic Bay area.

SEACAT is a scenario-driven tracking exercise which focuses on real time information exchange between the navy units involved, coordinated monitoring and close observation on our maritime territory, tracking suspicious vessels, and eventual conduct of visit, board, search and seizure to the SEACAT-controlled contact of interest or the supposed suspicious target vessel.