The Red Sea, a vital waterway for global trade and commerce, has been under threat from the Houthi rebels, a Yemeni group backed by Iran, who have launched more than 100 attacks on commercial vessels since October 2023. The attacks have disrupted the flow of goods and services, increased the costs and risks of shipping, and endangered the lives and livelihoods of seafarers and civilians.
The attacks have also posed a challenge to regional and international security and stability, as the Red Sea connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean, and the Suez Canal with the Horn of Africa.
In response to the Houthi attacks, the United States announced the formation of Operation Prosperity Guardian, a multinational maritime security force, on December 18, 2023. The operation aims to deter and defend against the Houthi threats, and to ensure the freedom of navigation and the safety of maritime traffic in the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandab Strait, and the Gulf of Aden. The operation is led by the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, and falls under the purview of the Combined Maritime Forces, a 39-nation naval partnership that operates in the region.
Singapore, a small island nation that relies heavily on maritime trade and transport, has joined the Operation Prosperity Guardian, along with other countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles, Spain, France, Italy, and Sri Lanka. Singapore’s participation is consistent with its longstanding commitment to the norms and rules that support the unimpeded global trade and the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law. Singapore’s participation is also in line with its interests and values as a responsible and constructive member of the international community.
Singapore’s contribution to the Operation Prosperity Guardian is mainly in the form of personnel, rather than vessels. Singapore has deployed a senior national representative to the Combined Maritime Forces, a team from the Republic of Singapore Navy’s Information Fusion Centre to support information-sharing and engagement outreach with the commercial shipping community, and a team of planners to help the coalition formulate operational plans. Singapore’s contribution reflects its niche capabilities and expertise in the areas of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, as well as maritime security and cooperation. Singapore’s contribution also demonstrates its willingness and ability to work with its partners and allies to address common challenges and threats.