Singapore, China conduct second bilateral maritime exerciseExercise Maritime Cooperation 2023 is the second in its series since its inauguration in 2015.
Story by Teo Jing Ting // Photos by Kenneth Lin and Chai Sian Liang
Emergency repairs to stop flooding into the damaged hull of a ship, helicopter cross-deck landing with the PLA(N) helicopter landing on the RSS Intrepid, gunnery firing as well as search and rescue operations.
These were some of the scenarios that naval personnel from both the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and People's Liberation Army Navy (PLA[N]) has conducted together over the past few days.
Held from 28 April to 1 May, the bilateral Exercise Maritime Cooperation 2023 comprised both a shore and sea phase.
It is the second exercise in the series since its inauguration in 2015.
Conducted in the South China Sea, the sea phase saw the RSN's Formidable-class frigate RSS Intrepid, Bedok-class Mine Countermeasure Vessel RSS Punggol, and the PLA(N)'s Jiangkai II-class frigate Yulin and Wozang-class Minesweeper Chibi going through a series of maritime drills.
On 28 Apr, the RSN's Commander First Flotilla Colonel (COL) Daniel Ng and PLA(N)'s Chief of Staff of Destroyer Flotilla, Southern Theatre Command, Senior Captain Mei Leyang co-officiated the Exercise Maritime Cooperation opening ceremony at RSS Singapura – Changi Naval Base.
Also present were RSN Fleet Commander COL Kwan Hon Chuong and Senior Captain Cheng Guochun, Deputy Director of Political Work, Department of Naval Base, PLA(N).
Speaking at the ceremony on 28 Apr, COL Ng said that the exercise was an opportunity for both navies to learn from one another and enhance mutual trust, understanding and cooperation.
"We are doing many activities both on shore and at sea… This will allow our people to learn from each other on a professional scale and more importantly, to interact and know each other better," said COL Ng in a media interview.
"We look forward to continue this momentum and to conduct useful exchanges to enhance friendship and cooperation between both forces."
Senior Captain Mei Leyang said that this exercise aimed to "further deepen friendship, expand consensus and promote the continuous forward development of the two navies."
Strengthening trust and respect
Taking on the role of flight deck marshal, Military Expert (ME) 2 Vaishasthagan was involved in the helicopter cross-deck landing.
He had to marshal the PLA(N) helicopter to ensure its smooth landing on RSS Intrepid.
"It was not an easy operation… we had to ensure that both sides understood each other's requirements. Through cooperation and communication, we successfully conducted the helicopter cross-deck landing," said ME2 Vaishasthagan, who is also a weapons systems supervisor.
"This helped to build a stronger bond and mutual trust with the PLA(N)."
For first time participant Captain (CPT) Wang Peixuan, the exercise was a great chance to build knowledge and expertise. It was also an opportunity to put her navigational and operational skills to the test.
"Executing this exercise demanded a high level of cooperation, collaboration and communication, and I'm proud to say that we successfully pulled it off. It was a fantastic opportunity to build mutual trust and respect as well," said CPT Wang, a navigation officer.
"We've (also) had the chance to swop stories, customs and traditions…it was a successful and rewarding experience."