Adm. John C. Aquilino receives a memento from Rear Adm. Aaron Beng, fleet commander of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), during a visit to the stealth frigate RSS Stalwart (72) at Changi Naval Base, Oct. 25. (U.S. Navy photo)

SINGAPORE - Adm. John C. Aquilino, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, visited Singapore Oct. 23-25 to help expand the maritime partnership between the two countries and to highlight the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order.

During his first stop in Singapore as U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, Aquilino met with the Minister of Defense, Dr. Ng Hen; Chief of Defense Forces, Lieutenant General Melvyn Ong; Rear Adm. Timothy Lo, Chief of Navy Staff, along with other senior Republic of Singapore Navy and government leadership to thank Singapore for their longstanding bilateral relationship and to discuss expanding security cooperation between the two nations.

“Singapore and the United States’ strong relationship is based on more than 70 years of mutual cooperation. Our partnership sets the example for other like-minded nations who share common values and continue to operate in accordance with international law in a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Aquilino. “A free and open Indo-Pacific ensures all nations, both big and small, are able to enjoy the sovereignty and prosperity of a safe and secure environment.”

Aquilino toured Changi Naval Base and concluded his visit with a tour of the International Fusion Centre (IFC). The IFC is hosted by Singapore and is made up of a team of 20 International Liaison Officers from 18 countries and 12 Republic of Singapore personnel. Aquilino commended the IFC for their collaboration and maritime information-sharing which prompts timely operational responses and ensures continued safety and security at sea. As a result of the IFC collaboration, there has been a 92 percent drop in maritime piracy and sea robbery in Southeast Asia from 2014 to 2018.

Singapore hosts the U.S. Navy’s forward deployed Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific/ CTF 73 and Destroyer Squadron 7. COMLOGWESTPAC provides resilient logistics and responsive maintenance to the combat ready fleet and enhanced engagement through complex exercises, adaptive exchanges and strategic port visits throughout Southeast Asia.

The United States and Singapore routinely participate in bilateral and multilateral exercises, such as SEACAT, RIMPAC, and the first ASEAN-U.S. Maritime Exercise (AUMX) and conduct personnel exchanges, as well as combined operations such as multi-national counter-piracy.

Adm. John C. Aquilino calls on Minister for Defence Dr. Ng Eng Hen, Oct. 25. (Singapore MINDEF photo)

Adm. John C. Aquilino reviews an honor guard at the Singapore Ministry of Defence headquarters, Oct. 25. (Singapore MINDEF photo)