Minister of State for Defence and Education Lawrence Wong visited the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) task group deployed to the Gulf of Aden in support of international counter-piracy operations this afternoon.
During his visit on board the Republic of Singapore Navy’s Landing Ship Tank (LST) the RSS Endeavour, Mr Wong was briefed on the piracy situation in the Gulf of Aden and the daily operations of the SAF task group. Mr Wong also engaged in a dialogue with men and women from the task group who shared about their operational experiences. During the dialogue, Mr Wong spoke about the importance of the SAF's contributions as part of multinational efforts to safeguard shipping in the Gulf of Aden. He said, "As a maritime nation, it is in Singapore's interest to uphold the safety and security of key sea lines of communication. We are therefore doing our part to contribute to the multinational counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden. The SAF Task Group deployed in the Gulf has excelled in its duties, and kept the area under its charge safe from piracy attacks. These efforts have been recognized by other armed forces and the international community at large. I am proud of the men and women of the SAF and their many contributions to our security both at home and abroad."
During their period of deployment, the task group conducted area patrols and surveillance and responded to calls for assistance from ships encountering pirate attacks. Two such attacks by suspected pirates were successfully disrupted by the task group last week. Elaborating on the disruption operations, Colonel Frederick Chew, Commanding Officer of 185 Squadron and Commander Task Group said, "On two separate occasions, the RSS Endeavour had responded to reports of a suspicious vessel near a merchant ship. Working with the Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, we deployed a Republic of Singapore Air Force helicopter to investigate both incidents and we successfully disrupted the attempted attacks. I am proud that the team responded in a timely and effective manner to prevent an act of piracy in our area of responsibility."
The 229-strong task group which was deployed in August this year, is the third to be deployed by the SAF to the Gulf of Aden. The two previous task groups were deployed in April 2009 and June 2010. Comprising an LST, two Super Puma helicopters and personnel from the Army, Navy and Air Force, the task group operates under the ambit of CTF 151. The SAF has also taken command of the multinational CTF 151 twice, and deployed a Fokker-50 Maritime Patrol Aircraft to support international counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.