KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia's maritime agency and Japan's coast guard on Monday hailed a weeklong joint exercise focusing on combating piracy at sea as well as search and rescue operations.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said in a statement that about 200 of its officials were involved in the exercise which started Jan. 24 at the northeastern port of Kuantan. It said the Japanese Coast Guard sent its patrol vessel Tsugaru and 60 crew members. The agency said two of its vessels were involved in the exercise, including KM Pekan, one of two patrol boats given to Malaysia by Japan.
The agency said this was the third such exercise in five years to help build capacity because "robbery at sea and cross-border maritime crime remain a significant threat" in Malaysia's maritime zone. It said the exercises included scenarios on handling the threat of robbery at sea, search and rescue operations and training crew to land a helicopter on the vessel.
"The exercise will help to bolster cooperation in fighting any threats in our maritime waters," the agency's enforcement director, Capt. Zainin Abdul Majid, said in the statement.
Japanese coast guard official Capt. Koji Tsuchiya said the exercise was a "strategic partnership" to bolster maritime cooperation. He said Japan has been conducting anti-piracy activities with Southeast Asian countries since 2000 as part of its commitment to ensure a safer region.
The exercise ends Tuesday, with the Tsugaru due to sail back to Hokadote port, officials said.
This story has been corrected to show that exercise began Jan. 24, not Jan. 29.