The 17th annual Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) exercise comprising nine partner nations has begun in Singapore.

SEACAT has been designed to offer a better understanding of the maritime domain through collaborative and coordinated sharing of data.

This will enable the participating nations to have a common understanding of the maritime environment and to operate as an effective unified maritime force.

The exercise will see the participation of sailors and coast guardsmen from Bangladesh, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, the US, Thailand, and Vietnam.

During the sea phase of the exercise, participating countries will carry out 15 boarding operations across three navy ships designed to deliver training opportunities in realistic at-sea environments.

“SEACAT 2018 will involve complex maritime interdiction scenarios that would offer opportunities for ‘real-world, real-time’ practice.”

US Navy Task Force 73 commander rear admiral Joey Tynch said: “SEACAT demonstrates the combined commitment of navies, coast guards, law enforcement and other interagency organisations from the US and ASEAN to work side-by-side in ensuring a transparent and inclusive information-sharing architecture where all partner nations, large and small, contribute to maritime domain awareness.”

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SEACAT 2018 will involve complex maritime interdiction scenarios that would offer opportunities for ‘real-world, real-time’ practice.

Participants will share information from all available sources, including Singapore’s Information Fusion Center and Maritime Operations Centere in Brunei, Philippine, and Thailand.

Tynch added: “We all need to share the same maritime picture so that we can identify and enforce the same maritime laws.”

The exercise originally commenced in 2002 under the name ‘Southeast Asia Cooperation against Terrorism’ and was renamed in 2012 to increase the scope of training among regional navies and coast guards.