KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia -- Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, and several senior 7th Fleet staff members participated in bilateral staff talks with their Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) counterparts, May 23-24 in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
Sawyer met with RMN Vice Adm. Dato’ Syed Zahiruddin Putra Bin Syed Osman, Commander Eastern Fleet, at his offices at Seppangar Naval Base, and hosted roundtable discussions with the combined staff, touching on several areas in which the two navies could improve their collaboration on maritime issues.
“Our relationship with the Royal Malaysian Navy cannot be overstated. We have been a constant presence in the region for the last 75 years, we will continue to engage with our partners and allies through staff talks such as these that encourage dialogue and innovation. We both have shared maritime interests and we can both grow and learn from each other,” said Sawyer.
As co-chair of the ninth annual U.S.-RMN Fleet Staff Talks session, Putra pointed out that Seventh Fleet assets regularly engage with the RMN in bilateral and multilateral exercises such as RIMPAC, Cobra Gold, Suman Warrior, Pacific Partnership, Bersama Shield, Tiger Strike and Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Malaysia. They also train together in multilateral exercises such as Komodo and Malabar hosted by regional partners.
“I hope we have an interesting session and hopefully interesting outcome as well,” said Putra.
Capt. Tracy Hines, Assistant Chief of Staff for U.S. 7th Fleet’s Information Systems and Networks (N6) directorate said conversations with her Malaysian counterpart focused on strengthening bilateral communications at sea. “We have made great strides in our information sharing capabilities and look forward to continuing to improve our command, control, computers and communication interoperability (C4I) challenges for the future," she said.
USNS Millinocket (T-EPF-3) arrived in Kota Kinabalu May 21 and brought with her several of the participants. More than 40 members of the U.S. 7th Fleet staff are currently embarked on Millinocket as part of a theater security cooperation (TSC) patrol aimed at strengthening bilateral naval relations between regional partners. In the coming weeks, Millinocket will continue her mission, making port calls in other Indo Pacific countries to facilitate a series of engagements and community outreach events.
Seventh Fleet, which celebrates its 75th year in 2018, spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. Seventh Fleet's area of operation encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 Sailors in the 7th Fleet.