SEACAT Anti-Pracy Exercises Begin
On October 5th, the U.S. and six other nations began a five-day naval exercise. The Singapore-based Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training Exercise (SEACAT) wants more ability to combat the growing amounts of piracyincidents in the region.
SEACAT did its first anti-terrorism exercise in 2002, and has expanded the program to include piracy and smuggling.
The joint exercise will included more than 100 U.S. sailors and personnel from Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Bangladeshi navy officials will also observe the exercises. Meanwhile, participating naval officers will receive simulated reports of suspicious activity in the Straits of Singapore and Malacca, the Andaman Sea and the South China Sea in order to run simulated response tactics.
The South China Sea has experienced a marked increase in piracy and robbery this year as well.
In July, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) said that incidents of piracy and armed robbery had risen 18 percent during the first half of 2015 over last year. There were about 106 incidents reported between January and June 2015 verses a total of 90 in 2014.
The U.S. Navy said it also sees the exercise as an opportunity to contribute to the region in disaster relief, humanitarian aid and search-and rescue operations. The U.S. Navy said an increased presence of warships in the region could intercept suspicious vessels and improve responses times.