S'pore and Malaysia hold contactless drill

The Singapore and Malaysian navies have held a week-long contactless exercise in the Malacca Strait, including air defence drills and gunnery firing.

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said yesterday the bilateral maritime exercise - called Exercise Malapura - involved about 500 personnel and was held without physical contact between servicemen from both countries.

In the exercise, the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) took part with Formidable-class frigate RSS Stalwart embarked with a Republic of Singapore Air Force S-70B Seahawk naval helicopter, and two Victory-class missile corvettes: RSS Vigilance and RSS Vigour.

A virtual opening ceremony on Sept 20 was held concurrently at RSS Singapura - Changi Naval Base in Singapore and Lumut Naval Base in Perak, Malaysia.

This was followed by the execution of naval serials during the sea phase, such as maritime security, manoeuvring and communications drills.

The Royal Malaysian Navy took part with a Lekiu-class frigate, a Kasturi-class corvette, a Handalan-class corvette and a Super Lynx helicopter, as well as F/A-18D and Hawk 208 fighter aircraft from the Royal Malaysian Air Force.

The RSN's fleet commander, Rear-Admiral Saw Shi Tat, said the mutual understanding built up over the years between sailors was key to the safe and successful conduct of the exercise.

He said in a statement: "Whilst the Covid-19 situation posed challenges for exercise planning and coordination, the participants from both navies worked together to overcome these challenges and demonstrated high levels of cooperation throughout the exercise.

"Strong friendships were forged amongst the sailors, and this augurs well for both navies to further strengthen collaboration going forward."

The exercise was hosted by Malaysia this year. It started in 1984 and was last held in 2018, featuring conventional naval warfare and maritime security drills.

Mindef said the two navies interact regularly across a wide range of activities.

These include professional exchanges and courses, as well as multilateral activities under the ambit of the Five Power Defence Arrangements, a pact comprising Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Britain, the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) and the ADMM-Plus.

Mindef said the two navies also work closely to enhance maritime security through the Malacca Straits Patrol.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2021, with the headline 'S'pore and Malaysia hold contactless drill'. Subscribe