Singapore to join Operation Prosperity Guardian to ensure maritime security in the Red Sea: Ng Eng Hen

singapore to join operation prosperity guardian to ensure maritime security in the red sea ng eng hen

In Parliament (9 Jan 2024), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced that Singapore would participate in a multinational operation to ensure maritime security in the Red Sea

The Red Sea, which connects the Suez Canal and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, is the shortest sea route linking Asia and Europe. It is a major Sea Line of Communication (SLOC) with approximately 12% of global trade by volume and 30% of global container traffic. and over US$1 trillion worth of goods a year.

As of 7 Jan this year, the Yemen-based Houthis have unlawfully attacked merchant ships in the Red Sea through firing of drones, missiles and hijacking. There have been 20 such attacks including one on Singapore-flagged Maersk Hangzhou.

Prior to the attacks, around 60 ships passed through the major trade route each day but this number has dropped by about a third in recent weeks.

Singapore-registered ships have thus been similarly affected. The number of daily transits through the Red Sea has now been approximately halved.

“The disruption of the Red Sea SLOC will have an impact on global supply chains. However, based on the current situation, the immediate impact on Singapore is expected to be limited, as the majority of our critical supplies such as food and pharmaceuticals are delivered via air freight or do not pass through the Red Sea,” Minister Ng said.

“Our local manufacturers also seem to have sufficient spare inventory to hedge against supply disruptions, though they are worried about increases in business costs,” he added. 

“Nonetheless, it is in our interest for Singapore to join cause with the international community to protect and ensure that key SLOCs (sea lines of communications) around the world remain open, especially if threatened by unlawful acts by non-state actors or terrorist groups.,” said Minister Ng

To this end, Singapore will join forces in a multinational effort dubbed Operation Prosperity Guardian.

Operation Prosperity Guardian was announced by the United States to ensure maritime security in the Red Sea

This operation aligns with the key principles (there were three) that Singapore had articulated in the 2005 Shangri-La Dialogue, Dr Ng said. 

These are:

First, the primary responsibility of maritime security lies with the littoral states. Second, the international community and agencies such as the International Maritime Organisation have a role to play. Third, all measures have to be in accordance with international law and respect the sovereignty of the littoral states.

Singapore’s participation in the operation will be the deployment of a team of planners to work with international partners at their headquarters to formulate plans.

In addition, Singapore will also send a team from the Republic of Singapore Navy’s Information Fusion Centre to support information sharing and engagement outreach to the commercial shipping community, as well as a senior national representative to the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) in Bahrain, Minister Ng said. 


Minister Ng also revealed that the FAF (French Air Force) has invited the SAF to provide two medical personnel to serve on FS Dixmude, now docked at the El Arish Port in Egypt.

This is a reconfigured hospital ship, and has been treating casualties from Gaza. The SAF has accepted the offer and plans are underway to deploy this medical team to aid civilian casualties there.


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