Southeast Asia nations, US begin naval exercise

The Philippine Navy (PN) is participating in a US Navy-led multilateral exercise codenamed SEACAT (Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training) together with the navies from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. SEACAT 2015, which started Monday, marks the 14th in the series, PN public affairs office chief Cmdr. Lued Lincuna said.

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.

The field at-sea training is carried out in each country’s territorial waters. In the Philippines, the exercise will be conducted within the area of responsibility of Naval Forces North West which is the West Philippine Sea area, in vicinity off Subic Bay area, Manila and its approaches.

Lued said SEACAT 2015 will see some of the PN’s surface, air assets and special operations units interoperating with other navies as they aim to expand information-sharing capabilities, improve interoperability among military, and law enforcement agencies in the region and provide opportunities to participating navies to gain good working experience in a multilateral environment.

Involved in this exercise are the two Philippine Navy patrol vessels, air assets and members of the Naval Special Operations Group. Also included is the high-speed vessel United States Navy Ship Millinocket (JSHV-3) which is a flexible platform that can be used to provide rapid projection of task tailored for response to a wide range of military and civilian contingencies such as non-combatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief.

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