No physical interaction in Singapore-Australia naval exercise amid Covid-19

The maritime exercise in the southern reaches of the South China Sea marks the 25th anniversary of Exercise Singaroo.
The maritime exercise in the southern reaches of the South China Sea marks the 25th anniversary of Exercise Singaroo. PHOTO: MINDEF

Singapore and Australia began their joint maritime exercise yesterday in the southern reaches of the South China Sea, with no physical interactions between personnel from both navies.

The joint drill by the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), marking the 25th anniversary of Exercise Singaroo, will continue till tomorrow, Singapore's Defence Ministry announced in a statement yesterday.

"The exercise will be conducted... with no physical interactions between the personnel from both navies due to the current Covid-19 situation," it said.

The ministry said the RSN's participation involves the Formidable-class frigate RSS Tenacious, Independence-class littoral mission vessel RSS Dauntless, as well as two Victory-class missile corvettes, RSS Valiant and RSS Valour, and a submarine.

Both missile corvettes will have ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The Australian navy is deploying the Hobart-class destroyer HMAS Hobart, with an embarked MH-60R helicopter, supported by replenishment oiler HMAS Sirius.

The exercise is supported by a Republic of Singapore Air Force Fokker-50 maritime patrol aircraft and two F-16 fighter aircraft.

The navies will carry out gunnery firing, manoeuvring drills, underway replenishment, air defence exercises, communication exercises and encounter exercises, where the UAVs will be deployed to provide surveillance and threat identification.

The RSN's commander of the 8th Flotilla, Colonel Ho Jee Kien, said: "Exercise Singaroo serves as a useful platform for the RSN and the RAN to carry out high-end training across the air, sea and underwater domains.

"As we mark the 25th anniversary of the exercise this year, we look forward to many more years of close cooperation and friendship between our two navies."

The Defence Ministry added that Exercise Singaroo is one of many bilateral military interactions between the Singapore Armed Forces and the Australian Defence Force, underscoring the close and long-standing defence relations between Singapore and Australia.

In addition to bilateral and multilateral exercises, both armed forces also interact frequently through high-level visits, regular dialogues, professional exchanges and the cross-attendance of courses.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 27, 2020, with the headline No physical interaction in Singapore-Australia naval exercise amid Covid-19. Subscribe