The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN)'s Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF) conducted Exercise Highcrest from 26 Oct to 30 Oct 2020 and is conducting Exercise Apex from 2 Nov to 4 Nov 2020. Exercise Highcrest and Exercise Apex are high-key maritime security exercises to ensure Singapore is ready to defend against maritime security threats, even amid the COVID-19 situation.
Led by the Singapore Maritime Crisis Centre (SMCC), Exercise Highcrest involved personnel from the RSN, the Singapore Police Force (SPF), the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), Singapore Customs (SC) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). This year's Exercise Highcrest validated the Whole-of-Government response against potential attacks on Singapore's key coastal installations, as national agencies coordinated responses to neutralise the threats and manage the aftermath, which included the handling of maritime traffic to deal with the security situation. Business continuity plans were also exercised in view of COVID-19 restrictions, with video conferencing tools used to facilitate planning and coordination across multiple agencies at various locations.
Exercise Apex, a tri-Service SAF exercise, sees the deployment of MSTF, Special Operations Task Force, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosive Defence Group personnel, Independence-class littoral mission vessel RSS Unity, multiple Super Puma helicopters and a Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicle, in an interdiction operation. As part of the exercise, deployed forces were tasked to capture a hijacked merchant vessel to prevent perpetrators from launching an attack on Singapore's vital coastal installations.
Commander MSTF, Rear-Admiral (RADM) Yong Wei Hsiung, highlighted the continuous need to remain vigilant to safeguard Singapore's maritime security. He said, "As an island nation, our porous borders make us vulnerable to attacks from the sea. Therefore, we must ensure our national maritime security system is robust and ready at all times to deal with any threats quickly and decisively. This year, we focused on honing our abilities to prevent and manage a terrorist attack from the sea - in particular the hijack of a merchant vessel. Through the tight-knit collaboration, I am assured that we can continue to keep our country safe against maritime security threats, even amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic."
Also visiting Exercise Apex at the RSN's Changi Command and Control Centre are Chief of Army Major-General Goh Si Hou and Chief of Navy RADM Aaron Beng.