Navy joins major Asian exercise

A British aircraft carrier and a nuclear submarine are at the centre of the largest ever naval exercise off the coast of Malaysia, in the pirate- infested, internationally disputed waters of south-east Asia.

The 13-day exercise, codenamed Flying Fish '97, involving 39 warships and 160 combat aircraft, is the most ambitious in the history of the Five Power Defence Agreement (FPDA), the region's only multi-national defence pact involving powers from outside the area.

The pact involves five Commonwealth states. Three outside powers - Britain, Australia and New Zealand - are required to consult on the defence of Singapore and Malaysia.

The region is seen as one of the world's major potential flashpoints. The exercise is taking place only a few hundred miles from the Spratly Islands, variously claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

Malaysia is reducing its defence spending, in spite of its booming "tiger" economy, but takes the possibility of conflict with China over the islands very seriously.

Britain is contributing 3,000 sailors and 16 ships, including the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, a nuclear-powered submarine, HMS Trenchant, an anti-aircraft destroyer, HMS Gloucester, two anti-submarine frigates, HMS Beaver and HMS Richmond, and two support ships, Royal Fleet Auxiliaries HMS Fort George and and HMS Diligence.

The British naval force left home in January as part of Ocean wave 97 - a major naval deployment which is visiting 34 countries, with the aim of demonstrating that Britain continues to have security interests in the region after Hong Kong is handed back to China on 1 July. Navy sources said Flying Fish comprised two five-day stages which would put progressively greater pressure on the ships, including submarine and air attacks.

But it would take account of the different environment in the shallow waters off the east coast of Malaysia, about 100 miles north of Singapore, with large numbers of fast patrol boats and missile attack craft.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will also work alongside their seasoned sa...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Property Manager

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for your first step into...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical Design Engineer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative company working...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat