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ASEAN navies omit live-firing activities at inaugural joint exercise

The Royal Brunei Navy Darussalam-class offshore patrol vessel, KDB Darulehsan , one of three visiting vessels taking part in the inaugural ASEAN multilateral naval exercise, which is being hosted by Indonesia. (US Navy)

Navies at the inaugural Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) multilateral naval exercise will not take part in any live-firing serials throughout the activity, Janes has learnt.

The drills, which have been dubbed as ‘ASEAN Solidarity Exercise in Natuna (ASEX-01 N) 2023', are the first multilateral naval exercise to be carried out exclusively for navies in the ASEAN bloc.

It is being hosted by the Indonesian Navy at various locations across the Riau Archipelago. A harbour phase of the exercise began on 18 September in Batam and a sea phase is being held from 20 to 23 September in the southern extremes of the South China Sea.

When the exercise was first announced in June 2023, Indonesian Armed Forces Chief Admiral Yudo Margono described the exercise as one that would validate the combat capabilities of all 10 navies across ASEAN.

However, exercise documents provided to Janes by an Indonesian Navy source on 19 September indicate that only three countries have dispatched their respective vessels to the drills and these are Brunei, Malaysia, and Singapore.

These visiting vessels are the Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN's) Victory-class corvette RSS Vigour, the Royal Brunei Navy's Darussalam-class offshore patrol vessel KDB Darulehsan, and the Royal Malaysian Navy's Kedah-class offshore patrol vessel KD Terengganu.

The vessels will operate alongside host ships from the Indonesian Navy and the Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency. Also taking part in the activity is a Boeing 737 maritime patrol airframe operated by the Indonesian Air Force.

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