MELBOURNE, Australia ― Singapore’s Navy has concluded its first-ever bilateral naval exercise off Guam with the U.S. Navy as part of ongoing efforts to explore new training spaces and opportunities for Singapore’s armed forces.
Held from Aug. 19 to Sept. 2, Exercise Pacific Griffin provided the Republic of Singapore Navy, or RSN, with the opportunity to conduct high-end exercises of substantial scope and complexity and featured advanced warfare training across the full spectrum of anti-submarine, anti-surface and anti-air warfare, according to a news release from Singapore’s Ministry of Defence.
RSN assets at the exercise included the frigates RSS Stalwart and RSS Supreme, along with the tank landing ship RSS Endurance. The U.S. Navy was represented by the littoral combat ship Coronado, the destroyer Benfold, and the Military Sealift Command’s oiler USNS Pecos.
A U.S. Navy multimission P-8 Poseidon aircraft and a Republic of Singapore Air Force Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk naval helicopter embarked on the Supreme acted as supporting air assets.
The RSN also took the opportunity to conduct unilateral live-firings on the sidelines of Pacific Griffin. Both RSN frigates each fired a single designated time-on-target, anti-ship RGM-84 Harpoon missile, simultaneously hitting the same target. A Singaporean MoD spokesman told Defense News that the target engaged by the missiles was located over the horizon.
Pacific Griffin highlights the longstanding maritime partnership between the U.S. and Singaporean navies through 23 years of annual bilateral exercises. Capt. Lex Walker, of the U.S. Navy’s Destroyer Squadron 7, said the exercise “provided a unique opportunity for both navies to interact and engage in a broader and more complex range of maritime scenarios and operations.”
The commander of the RSN’s First Flotilla and commanding officer of 185 Squadron, Col. Saw Shi Tat, highlighted the value of the exercise in enhancing professionalism and interoperability among the two navies, noting that “the operating environment in Guam gave us the opportunity to hone our edge and push our operational envelopes.”
The Southeast Asian island nation of Singapore is a close security cooperation partner of the United States and has been a strong supporter of the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific, hosting a rotational deployment of littoral combat ships to the region as well as logistics support units and facilities for transiting U.S. aircraft and ships.
Strategically located at the southern end of the Strait of Malacca where it meets the South China Sea, Singapore is itself heavily dependent on the maritime trade of which a significant portion transits the straits annually, and its well-equipped armed forces play an important role in ensuring the maritime security of the vital trade route.
However, its small land area and congested waters means it lacks the space it needs to train effectively, and Singapore now carries out its largest and most complex training exercises overseas. It also participates in multilateral military exercises involving the United States such as Red Flag in Nevada and Alaska, and the Rim of the Pacific naval exercises off Hawaii. Singapore has also taken notice of the potential basing of a fighter detachment in Guam, where its F-15 fighters have recently trained together with the U.S. Air Force.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.