Speech by Chief of Navy RADM Lai Chung Han at the Closing of the Maritime Information-Sharing Exercise (MARISX 2017) and the ASEAN Maritime Security Information-Sharing Exercise (AMSISX 2017)

Speech by Chief of Navy RADM Lai Chung Han at the Closing of the Maritime Information-Sharing Exercise (MARISX 2017) and the ASEAN Maritime Security Information-Sharing Exercise (AMSISX 2017)

Thank you for being part of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN)'s Golden Jubilee celebrations. We were very gratified by the strong representation from the respective navies and truly honoured by your presence. 

It gives me great pleasure to be here at the closing of MARISX and AMSISX 2017. I know that the exercise has been intense and I hope that you have all benefited from the last three days.

Maritime issues today are complex and they transcend national boundaries. With rapid globalisation, our economies are increasingly interlinked. We have a responsibility to keep our seas open as a global commons to ensure sustained economic growth for our region. The maritime domain, with its porous borders, is also a prime target for perpetrators. Transnational issues such as piracy and sea robbery; illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing; human migration due to conflict and poverty; and the looming threat of maritime terrorism create new challenges for navies and coast guards around the world. It is only through information-sharing, connecting the dots, and making sense of the complex seascape that we are able to collectively counter the threats we face today. 

Singapore is a maritime nation and our destiny is inextricably linked with our surrounding seas. As the RSN celebrates our Golden Jubilee this year, we remain committed to working with regional navies to address maritime threats and keep our sea lines of communication open. To this end, the RSN will co-chair the ADMM-Plus Experts' Working Group on Maritime Security with the Republic of Korea Navy from this year to 2020. We also actively participate in regional exercises under the WPNS (Western Pacific Naval Symposium) and the FPDA (Five Power Defence Arrangements). The IFC (Information Fusion Centre), which has been home here for you for the past few days, was set up in 2009, and is a prime example of the RSN's commitment to promote information sharing and tactical cooperation in our region. As a regional information-sharing hub, the IFC contributes to effectively addressing maritime security threats by building maritime domain awareness. Exercises like what you have gone through in the past few days are important platforms for MARSEC (Maritime Security) practitioners to learn, network and collaborate to keep our seas safe and secure for all. 

This year's exercises have incorporated a set of realistic and challenging exercise scenarios to reflect the complex seascape we operate in. Over the past three days, I have been told that you have had the chance to experience the importance of real-time information-sharing, and how little nuggets of seemingly unrelated information can be amalgamated to make sense of emerging threats. I am also confident that the exercise play has allowed you to gain new insights into how different navies and maritime enforcement agencies operate together. This allows us to enhance mutual understanding and learn best practices from one another.

This year, we have also utilised IFC's new operating system, which boasts an enhanced user interface and faster processing capacity. This system augments information-sharing, and allows us to collaborate in a secured internet environment. This is, of course, particularly important given global developments on cyber-attacks. I hope that you have found the experience useful overall.

Many of you would know that the RSN has developed the underwater equivalent of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), or Underwater CUES. The Underwater CUES seeks to enhance submarine operational safety by providing navies with non-binding guidelines on the avoidance actions to be taken to prevent underwater incidents. Just as important for us is to define what Underwater CUES is, it is also important for us to tell you what Underwater CUES is not. It is certainly not waterspace management, because for sensitive submarine operations that would be a great faux pas. But what it is, is to share unclassified information that is useful, for us to use individually to enhance the safe operations of our submarines. 

The impetus for the Underwater CUES is clear. Increased regional merchant traffic, vessels with deeper draughts, larger trawlers, and underwater hazards such as mobile oil rigs and submarine cables are real hazards that pose a serious threat to underwater safety. 

There has also been a steady increase in the number of submarines and submarine operating countries in this region. By 2030, more than 250 submarines will operate in Asia Pacific and the shallow waters of South China Sea. 

Given this, information-sharing is even more important and information on seismic activities, real-time movements of deep-sea oil rigs and Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs). This information is already being shared at the IFC today. We would now like to extend it to a dedicated portal for underwater safety -- the Submarine Safety Information Portal (SSIP). This new portal allows us to prevent underwater incidents by providing submariners and submarine operating centres with real-time tracking of deep-draught commercial vessels and hazards. I believe you have seen the valuable role that SSIP can bring to the underwater domain in the exercise scenario played yesterday. The SSIP, to succeed, will require your continued partnership for up-to-date and relevant information.

The successful conduct of MARISX 2017 and AMSISX 2017 reaffirms our strong commitment to closely collaborate in maritime security, and play our part in ensuring underwater safety. I would like to thank all exercise participants for your active contributions in the exercise. This morning, as I officially launch the SSIP, I hope that this new portal will serve the underwater community well. I also urge all parties to contribute to and use the SSIP actively. On this note, I declare the exercises closed. Thank you.

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