Photo from the Maritime Training Activity Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (MTA SEACAT) 2023. (Photo from the Naval Forces West)

The Naval Forces West (NFW) demonstrated its commitment to regional maritime security recently by participating in the Maritime Training Activity Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (MTA SEACAT) 2023.

The NFW said Saturday that the MTA SEACAT, a situation-based naval training organized by the U.S. 7th Fleet, took place from August 15-25, and involved various Southeast Asian nations. It leveraged the Singapore International Fusion Center and the Multinational Operations and Exercise Center in Changi, Singapore.

SEACAT’s primary emphasis lies in the seamless exchange of real-time information, synchronized surveillance maneuvers, tracking activities, and the eventual execution of visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) operations on the specified maritime vessel of interest (VOI).

“This year’s SEACAT training consisted of shore events in Changi, Singapore, and At-Sea phase in different Southeast Asian countries. The objective of this training was to enhance cooperation among participating countries and provide mutual support and a common goal to address crises, contingencies, and illegal activities in the maritime domain using standard tactics, techniques, and procedures,” the NFW stated.

NFW, a key player in the Philippine Navy, engaged in the training through its operational control (OPCON) and tactical control (TACON) units.

These units, coordinated by the Deputy Commander for Fleet Operations, Navy Captain Charles Merric Villanueva, who also leads the Naval Task Force-41, participated in both onshore and at-sea phases of the exercise.

The pinnacle of the exercise was the series of events that unfolded on August 25 in the waters off El Nido, Palawan. Naval Forces West orchestrated a showcase of capabilities that underscored the strategic importance of maritime cooperation.

The NV312 aircraft spearheaded maritime air surveillance and intelligence, while the 2nd Boat Attack Division and the Seal Team of Naval Special Operations Unit 4 showcased their prowess in maritime interdiction operations and VBSS exercises.

NFW said that integral to the exercise was the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) aspect, which was bolstered through the use of state-of-the-art technologies. The automated identification system (AIS) feed from the VOI was monitored from the NFW Operations Center aboard the Littoral Monitoring Station-Lalutaya, while the live feed was provided by the MUARS71 ScanEagle. This integration of technology ensured real-time information exchange and facilitated efficient decision-making.

Lieutenant Commander Rex Ryan Daclan represented the NFW in Changi, Singapore, where the exercise’s reports were received.

“MTA SEACAT 2023 concluded with a developed capability and trust among participating countries to cooperate and provide mutual support in the maritime domain and have equipped PN personnel with the necessary knowledge and skills to achieve the PN’s vision to be a ‘modern and multi-capable Philippine Navy’,” the NFW said.

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