At the invitation of the United States Navy, Germany participated in the 21st Multinational Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) series of exercises. The exercise took place from August 15 to September 9, 2022 under the direction of the 7th United States-fleet instead.
US Coast Guard
In addition to the liaison officer of the naval shipping command from Hamburg, two naval shipping control officers participated as exercise observers at the Information Fusion Center (IFC) in Singapore.
The IFC started operations on April 27, 2009 as a regional maritime security center. It aims to facilitate information sharing and cooperation between its partners to improve maritime security in the region. The German representative has also been represented in the IFC Singapore since 2019. The aim of the exercise is to promote the multinational exchange of information with a focus on the ASEAN countries in various areas: extended maritime situational awareness, technical Maritime Domain Awareness ( MDA), as well as boarding and control of ships.
A total of 21 nations took part in the exercise: Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Great Britain, USA and Viet Nam.
The exercise was divided into two sections. The first section was purely a staff frame exercise. Civilian companies and developers presented various MDA software tools. In practical exercises, they showed the practical benefits. The second section took place at sea with chartered civilian ships, Coast Guards and United States Navy instead. The situation centers of the participating countries practiced the exchange of information.
The Hamburg naval officers got a comprehensive picture of the regional situation during an accompanying MDA seminar. These include: piracy, environmental disasters, arms and drug smuggling, illegal fishing and other dark ship activities in the Indo-Pacific. Dark ships are ships that disguise their identity, primarily by turning off their mandatory automatic identification signal. For example, they try to circumvent embargoes.
The content of the seminar was also how the neighboring countries deal with these problems and challenges, which technologies they use to make the sea routes in the region safer. The main focus was on building networks between the participating nations, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and academies.
In particular, SEACAT helped the German officers to understand the maritime security architecture in the Indo-Pacific. For the naval shipping command, the findings from the exercise are of great value for their cooperation with civil shipping in the region. And to what extent the NATO doctrines for merchant shipping are also applied there.