The 21st annual Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), a multilateral exercise to enhance cooperation among Southeast Asian countries, has completed after ten days of in-person and at-sea engagements.

With a focus on shared maritime security challenges of the region, this exercise enhanced collaboration among 21 Indo-Pacific partners.

Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7 commodore Captain Tom Ogden said: “These past two weeks have reiterated what we already knew, our nations and maritime forces are smarter and stronger when we share information and work together.

“The in-person, multilateral collaboration exhibited in SEACAT has undoubtedly enhanced our relationships and promoted maritime security across the Indo-Pacific.”

DESRON 7 is the US Navy’s destroyer squadron forward-deployed in Southeast Asia. It acts as the main tactical and operational commander of littoral combat ships deployed on a rational basis to Singapore, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7’s Sea Combat Commander.

The 2022 exercise saw 21 partner nations taking part. These are Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, UK, US, and Vietnam.

The shore phase of the exercise in Singapore involved an uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) workshop to share best practices in UAS employment, planning and operations to build and improve Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA).

The sea phase featured boarding operations undertaken by several countries across the contracted vessel intended to offer training opportunities in real-world at-sea environments.

US Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team (USCG MSRT) embarked the ship and aided in participants’ interdictions and boardings, in turn building on the skills practiced during Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) workshop held under the shore phase.

Operating simultaneously with the sea phase, a command post exercise at Singapore’s Information Fusion Center acted as a centralised hub for information sharing in the monitoring of the contracted merchant ship simulating suspicious vessels in seas across the Southeast Asian region.

The US Navy participants featured staff from DESRON 7, P-8A Poseidon aircraft designated to Task Force 72, and personnel from Task Force 76, US 7th Fleet, and US Pacific Fleet.

The non-military participants featured members of International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), EU Critical Maritime Route Wider Indian Ocean (CRIMARIO), Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University Singapore (LKYSPP NUS), The Pew Charitable Trusts, Risk Intelligence, Stable Seas, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).

Last year, SEACAT was held virtually in Singapore.