S'pore and US navies conduct maritime exercise in Guam

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08 Jul 2021 | OPS & TRAINING

S'pore and US navies conduct maritime exercise in Guam

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) conducted a series of air, surface and underwater naval drills alongside their United States Navy (USN) counterparts in Exercise Pacific Griffin 2021.

// Story by Teo Jing Ting

// Photos courtesy of RSN

The firing of an Aster anti-air missile. The launch of torpedoes from naval helicopters and frigates. These were some of the operations that the RSN was conducting off the waters of Guam, as part of this year's Exercise Pacific Griffin.

Held from 22 Jun to 7 Jul, the third edition of this bilateral maritime exercise featured the RSN working alongside their USN counterparts in a series of naval drills in the air, surface and underwater domains.

Participating assets from the RSN included its Formidable-class frigates RSS Tenacious and RSS Stalwart and Independence-class Littoral Mission Vessel RSS Fearless, while the USN sent its Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Benfold, auxiliary ship USNS Amelia Earhart and a Los Angeles-class submarine.

During the exercise, naval divers from both countries also conducted maritime counter-terrorism training and a combined boarding of a vessel of interest.

Here are four highlights you need to know about this year's exercise.

1)  This biennial exercise provides an opportunity for the RSN to hone their skills and capabilities.

The vast sea space of Guam's waters allowed the RSN to fire the Aster anti-air missile and launch Harpoon missiles; as well as fire torpedoes from both the frigates and naval helicopters – exercises which they would have otherwise not been able to perform in Singapore given the land and space constraints.

RSS Tenacious firing a Harpoon anti-ship missile during a coordinated strike with RSS Stalwart and the RSAF's fighter jets.
RSS Stalwart launching a lightweight torpedo against a target in the water.

2)  Singapore and US naval divers conducted maritime counter-terrorism training and a combined boarding of a vessel of interest.

The RSN divers (top) scaling the rope ladder to board a suspicious vessel (simulated by the RSN’s training ship MV Avatar), together with their USN counterparts (below). This is part of their combined maritime counter-terrorism training.
The RSN divers (top) scaling the rope ladder to board a suspicious vessel (simulated by the RSN’s training ship MV Avatar), together with their USN counterparts (below). This is part of their combined maritime counter-terrorism training.
The RSN divers also engaged in close quarter battle and raided buildings.
High alert: USN divers entering the compound to secure the room.
RSN divers securing a target within the compound.

3)  The RSN and RSAF executed successful coordinated missile firings, among other sea-air integration missions.

This year's Exercise Pacific Griffin also saw the participation of Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) fighter jets. Deployed to Guam for unilateral training from May to July, the fighters took the opportunity to conduct several sea-air integrated missions in support of maritime operations during the exercise, strengthening cooperation between the two Services.

The RSAF's G550 Airborne Early Warning aircraft (centre) flying in formation with two F-15SGs (beside it) and two F-16C/Ds (far left and right) during the exercise.
An F-15SG releasing flares during an air defence exercise with the RSN to enhance sea-air integration.

4)  Exercise Pacific Griffin helps to strengthen the cooperation as well as trust and friendship between the RSN and USN.

Apart from conducting maritime operations at sea, both navies also had the opportunity to interact and build trust and friendship during a shore planning phase.

Highlighting the value of Exercise Pacific Griffin between the two navies, Colonel (COL) Ooi Tjin Kai – the RSN's Deputy Fleet Commander and the exercise task force commander – said: "Exercise Pacific Griffin is an important part of a series of regular bilateral interactions with our US counterparts.

"We always look forward to training with the USN as it provides us with the opportunity to conduct exercises to hone our capabilities and enhance our cooperation."

COL Ooi (right) and Capt Sargeant officiating at the exercise's opening ceremony on 22 Jun.

USN Commander of Task Force 71 Captain (Capt) Chase Sargeant added that the exercise benefitted the two navies by allowing each to hone in on shared knowledge, while bolstering a strong and enduring maritime relationship.

"Exercises like Pacific Griffin emphasise cooperation while building competencies in a complex and technologically advanced training environment," said Capt Sargeant.

"This exercise demonstrates the trust and expertise we have built over the years with the Singaporean navy through increasingly complex and integrated training and live fire events."

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