SAF contingent heading to Gulf of Aden

SAF contingent heading to Gulf of Aden
Major (NS) Roysten Lee, 37, here with his wife Carrie Wong at the Istana, was the top graduate among the 45 NSmen who attended the nine-month National Service Command and Staff Course.

SINGAPORE will - for the ninth time since 2009 - send an armed contingent to support counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Thursday that a stealth frigate and a naval helicopter from the Singapore Armed Forces will watch over the pirate-plagued waters off Somalia from March to June next year.

The three-month stint will see the SAF contingent joining the multinational Combined Task Force 151, which includes the United States, Britain and South Korea, to patrol the area and thwart any pirate attacks on merchant ships.

Latest figures from the International Maritime Bureau show that piracy incidents in the third quarter of this year have dropped to a seven-year low.

The Gulf of Aden, an important waterway connecting the Red Sea with the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, has seen 10 attacks in the last nine months, down sharply from 70 in the same period last year.

Last year, Dr Ng said Singapore will join its coalition partners in deciding whether "military presence is less required" if piracy become less frequent.

Dr Ng announced the latest anti-piracy mission during a ceremony on Thursday at the Istana marking the graduation of 209 officers and military experts from Command and Staff Courses at the Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College.

The course - there are different ones for regulars and operationally-ready national servicemen (NSmen) - is the highest level of formal military education for commissioned officers, and grooms senior commanders to eventually take charge of battalions, brigades or even divisions.

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