Singapore hosted the first ever ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Maritime Security Shore Exercise from 22-23 Jan 07. This Maritime Security Shore Exercise is also the first time that member countries have come together for an operational activity under the ambit of the ARF. Singapore’s hosting of the Maritime Security Shore Exercise underscores its firm support for the ARF.

            The multilateral shore exercise was designed to promote interoperability and familiarity amongst the various agencies involved in enhancing maritime security. Maritime security experts from the military, law enforcement, port, and policy agencies of ARF member countries participated in a series of inter-agency discussions and  table-top exercises. A simulation exercise was also held at the Republic of Singapore Navy’s Tactical Training Centre at Changi Naval Base. The exercises focused on inter-agency as well as international information sharing and collaborative sense making.

            A  total of 102 officials from 21 ARF member countries participated in the Maritime Security Shore Exercise. Their participation reflects the recognition by ARF member countries that multilateral cooperation is necessary to address the transnational nature of maritime challenges that all countries face. Comprising 26  member countries, the ARF is the only formal security forum in the larger Asia-Pacific region. Building on the high level of comfort that has been achieved
among ARF member countries, the ARF is moving beyond confidence-building measures to the next phase of its development in preventive diplomacy. The conduct of the ARF Maritime Security Shore Exercise reflects the ARF’s progress from dialogue to practical cooperation.





Shore Exercise


            The Singapore-hosted ARF Maritime Security Shore Exercise is a follow-up to the ARF Confidence Building Measures (CBM) on “Regional Cooperation in Maritime Security”, which Singapore co-hosted with the US from 2-4 Mar 05. The proposal for the Shore Exercise was endorsed by the ARF Foreign Ministers at the 13th ARF Ministerial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur on 28 Jul 06.


            To lay the groundwork for the Shore Exercise, Singapore hosted an Exercise Planning Conference from 7-8 Dec 06. At the Planning Conference, participants discussed and agreed on the exercise concept, topics for professional exchanges and the scenario to be used for the table-top and simulation exercises.




            Comprising 26 member countries, the ARF is the only formal security forum in the larger Asia-Pacific region. Despite its diverse membership, the ARF provides a unique and valuable platform to foster constructive dialogue and consultation on political and security issues of common interest between member countries. Over the years, the ARF member countries have built up a high level of comfort between them through the conduct of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), such as seminars and information exchanges. This has allowed the ARF to gradually move into the second phase of its development in the area of Preventive Diplomacy.


            The 26 member countries of the ARF are as follows: Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, China, European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan, Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Laos PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russian Federation, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, United States and Vietnam.




Professional Exchanges


During the Professional Exchanges, countries shared presentations along the themes of: (a) National Inter-agency Models of Information Sharing and (b) International and Regional Cooperation Arrangements. A list of countries and the topics that were presented are as follows:





Australia’s National Coordination of Maritime Security


Coordinating Mechanisms of Offshore Search and Rescue Operations


Information Sharing between National Maritime Agencies such as the Police Coast Guard, Customs and Port Authorities


Maritime Security- Indonesian Perspective


Japan Coast Guard Guar’s Cooperation (JCG) with Asian Countries


Roles and Challenges in Assuring Responsibility for Maritime Action Agency for the “Eyes in the Sky” Initiative

New Zealand

Maritime Surveillance and Patrol


Pakistan Maritime Security Agencies Operations


Singapore's Approach to Maritime Security

United States

US Coast Guard Organization and Lessons Learned from Search and Rescue and Disaster Relief Operations


            In addition to these countries, the recently established Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) Information Sharing Centre (ISC) also made presentations on the role and functions of the ReCAAP ISC, its links with various focal points, and how it contributes to regional maritime security.


Exercise Scenario


            The exercise scenario, which was used for both the table-top and simulation exercises, featured international cooperation between operational agencies of different countries in dealing with a potential maritime security threat.  The fictitious scenario centred on a vessel that was recently reported missing by her owner.  The owner of the vessel received a Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) alarm but was unable to verify the nature of the alarm.  The owner subsequently appealed to the maritime agencies to help locate his vessel.  The maritime agencies agreed that this was an important issue and decided to assist in the search of the missing vessel.      


Table-top Exercise


            The table-top exercise was based on the scenario described above and executed through a series of scripted questions. The table-top exercise was facilitated by a Singapore inter-agency panel comprising representatives from the Republic of Singapore Navy, Police Coast Guard, Maritime Port Authority, Singapore Customs and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority. Discussion revolved around pertinent maritime security issues such as modalities of information exchange and collaborative security arrangements.


Tactical Trainer Exercise


            The tactical trainer exercise was conducted at the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) Tactical Training Centre (see below). It featured international cooperation between operational agencies in a generic target identification and tracking of a fictitious vessel-of-interest. Participants were split into composite teams, with each team given limited information on the lost vessel. Teams were assigned sectors in the area of operations and worked together to share information to collectively compile the sea situation picture.




            The RSN has two Tactical Training Centres (TTCs) which are based in Changi Naval Base and Tuas Naval Base.  TTCs are used primarily for the purpose of tactical training involving multiple Shipboard Command Teams.  Each TTC consists of multiple cubicles equipped with consoles that simulate the ship’s Combat Information Centre (the communications and electronics hub of a ship).  The consoles provide the Command Teams with the sea situation picture and communications infrastructure. This is used to facilitate the conduct of procedural and tactical level exercises as well as the evaluation of operational plans.


            Although geographically separated, both TTCs are linked via fibre optic cables. The two TTCs can therefore jointly conduct an exercise for up to 20 Command Teams at a time.  This versatile arrangement has also led to an increase in the utilisation rate as the Command Teams no longer need to travel away from their home-base to participate in exercises. 


            RSN TTCs also conduct multilateral exercises on a regular basis. These exercises allow procedures to be tested and evaluated before the ships are deployed for the exercise proper at sea.  As a result, preparation time is reduced and inter-operability between exercise participants is enhanced.



participants from the ARF MARSEC Shore Ex 07 at the tactical trainer exercise
ARF MARSEC Shore Ex 07 participants at the Tactical Training Centre based in Changi Naval Base as part of the shore exercise