The biennial Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) not only presents valuable training opportunities for Singapore but also reaffirms the strong ties among the navies participating in what is the world's largest multilateral maritime exercise.
Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen made these points during his visit to Hawaii, where Exercise RIMPAC is being held, on 2 Aug (Singapore time). He also thanked host country United States (US) for including the Republic of Singapore Navy in the exercise, which is being held from 28 Jun to 3 Aug in the waters off Hawaii.
Exercise RIMPAC began in 1971 with five participating countries. Today, it has grown substantially. This year, some 25 countries are taking part with 25,000 personnel, 45 ships, five submarines and 200 aircraft conducting training drills together.
"It (the exercise) reflects the US-led initiative to be inclusive, bring as many countries possible to collaborate (and enhance) interoperability. And overall, I think, not only from a training perspective, but from a military-to-military relations (and) defence relations (perspective), I think it is very positive," said Dr Ng when he visited troops taking part in the exercise, on board RSN frigate RSS Tenacious on 2 Aug.
As part of his visit, Dr Ng also attended a reception held on RSS Tenacious where he met RSN personnel, as well as with about 50 officers from the US, including Deputy Commander of the US Pacific Fleet, Rear Admiral Matthew Carter, and participating Southeast Asian navies.
Dr Ng noted the strong participation in the exercise by ASEAN navies, with seven out of 10 ASEAN countries involved, and emphasised the importance of Ex RIMPAC and other US regional engagement efforts in building trust and confidence among regional militaries.
He said, "This (strong ASEAN participation in Ex RIMPAC) reflects the strong support that the US enjoys for its military-to-military engagements with ASEAN. And from ASEAN, (it is) a recognition of the important and vital role that the US continues to play in our region." Singapore chairs the regional grouping ASEAN this year.
He also added that military-to-military exercises build partnerships through collaboration and cooperation to forge mutual understanding and confidence.
For RIMPAC 2018, the RSN has taken on leadership roles such as Commander Task Group for anti-submarine warfare, as well as Commander Task Unit in the Expeditionary Strike Group. This is the sixth time that the RSN has participated over the last 10 years.
Dr Ng is on a four-day working visit to Honolulu, Hawaii from 1 to 4 Aug. In addition to attending the reception on RSS Tenacious, Dr Ng also visited the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) Headquarters in Honolulu, Hawaii on 3 Aug, where he met Commander US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) Admiral (ADM) Philip S. Davidson.
During the meeting, they exchanged views on a wide range of geopolitical developments such as the terrorism threat in Southeast Asia. They also welcomed future opportunities for deeper cooperation between the Singapore Armed Forces and the US INDOPACOM.