THE 9th Redback exercise which ended at Swettenham Pier holds a special significance for both the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and the Australian Border Force (ABF).
The ABF deployed its Ocean Shield, which was involved in the search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, along with 42 crew members for the seven-day exercise.
MMEA deputy director-general (operations) Rear Admiral Datuk Mohd Taha Ibrahim said this was the first time their Australian counterpart was sending a vessel for the joint exercise intended to enhance the capabilities of its personnel and asset.
“Normally, the exercise would only involve their experts.
“Among the training scenarios that were run during the at-sea phase were safe boarding techniques, fire fighting techniques and search and rescue operation.
Rear Admiral Peter Laver (right) shaking hands with Rear Admiral Mohd Taha Ibrahim before boarding the Ocean Shield. — Photos: GARY CHEN/The Star
“We learnt new things from them as they are more experienced in this aspect,” he said at the recent closing ceremony.
Australia led the hunt for MH370, which disappeared on March 8, 2014. It left Kuala Lumpur and was scheduled to land in Beijing.
The Ocean Shield was deployed to scour the sea bed of the Indian Ocean at a depth of some 4,500m, hoping to find wreckage of the missing plane.
In August, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said any decision to resume the search, based on any new data, had to be jointly made by Malaysia, Australia and China.
Australia’s Maritime Border Command Commander Rear Admiral Peter Laver said it was a great pleasure to deploy its largest border protection vessel for civil maritime law enforcement.
“Ocean Shield has a history of working with Malaysia as previously, it was involved in the search for MH370.
“It was a great pleasure for me to spare the vessel to visit Malaysia as a way to renew our cooperation with the people and the Malaysian Coast Guard,” he said.
Laver said the maritime threat was challenging, complex and ever-evolving with new security issues.
“People smugglers, smuggling of drugs and other contraband, pirates and terrorists deliberately seek to exploit any lack of cooperation or coordination across the international borders.
“The coast guards of both countries need to work together to deal with criminal activities.
“This exercise is an important step to develop the relationship between two civil maritime law enforcement authorities in preserving the safety of mariners and their trade,” he said.
The Redback exercise, launched at the Boustead Cruise Centre, Port Klang, on Oct 9, saw the participants being brought through the waters of the Malacca Straits from Port Klang to Penang on KM Marlin and KM Bagan Datuk, escorted by Ocean Shield.
The exercise was divided into three phases of training — harbour phase, at-sea phase and closing phase.
Besides exchanging theory and practical skills, the participants were also trained on search and rescue methods before demonstrating the outcome of their training exercises.
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