The US Navy Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) and the Republic of Singapore Navy Formidable-class multi-role stealth frigate RSS Steadfast (FFS 70) have conducted a bilateral exercise in the South China Sea.

The exercise took place last week with the aim of enhancing bilateral interoperability between the two navies. It focused on the importance of communications and coordination while sailing together.

Destroyer Squadron 7 commodore Captain Ann McCann said: “Meeting our partners at sea gives our navies the opportunity to practice maritime proficiencies and further strengthen the bond between both countries.

“Engaging with our network of partners in the region is essential to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The events conducted include a publication exercise, flashing light exercise, manoeuvring exercise, large and small calibre gun shoots, and a photo exercise with a focus on Covid-19 social distancing measures.

This resulted in a multi-event exercise with no in-person planning.

Gabrielle Giffords Blue Crew commanding officer Dustin Lonero said: “This was the first time that Gabrielle Giffords Blue Crew sailed alongside the Singapore Navy at sea, and they demonstrated high tactical proficiency throughout the exercise.

“Working with Steadfast was an excellent learning opportunity and gave us the chance to strengthen bonds, and enhance our mutual maritime professionalism in the shared naval environment.”

In October last year, the US and Singapore conducted Exercise Pacific Griffin near Guam.

The navies of the two countries participated together in other initiatives at sea, including the ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise (AUMX), Exercise Pacific Griffin, Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), and Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).