Manila, Philippines – As part of the Philippine Navy’s (PN) commitment to the 14th Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) in Qingdao, China from April 22 to 23 2014, the PN hosted the WPNS Workshop from April 21 to 24, 2015 which was attended by 48 delegates from 23 member and observer navies.
The WPNS is a venue for navies in the Western Pacific region to discuss mutual security issues and interests. Specifically, the activity aims to facilitate and discuss cooperative initiatives which will be approved by chiefs of navies in the Symposium proper. Part of its objectives is to explore and develop new ways of enhancing friendship and professional cooperation at a variety of levels thus building confidence and trust for today and the future.
Overall, the workshop has achieved significant results in strategic and operational aspects. The discussion on the proposal to create a Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) Working Group, which aims to provide a venue and mechanism for WPNS navies to share information on the implementation of CUES, paves the way for navies to enhance interoperability in order to avoid untoward incidents at sea. Moreover, the PN presentation on the adoption of the Common Navy Protocol on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), which can provide common procedures among the Navies as reference for planning, training and conduct of HADR operations in accordance to international standards and principles, was an opportunity for the PN to elevate said protocol to the WPNS platform. This initiative may further improve and coordinate HADR efforts among navies in the Western Pacific.
On the aspect of friendship and regional cooperation, the workshop also contributed to building trust and confidence. The discussion on the WPNS Junior Officer Interaction is an avenue for the junior officers from the WPNS member navies to give their perspective on maritime security and learn each other’s cultures and experiences. Moreover the various activities that were confirmed will definitely ensure the continuity of the objectives of the WPNS in the years to come.
Noteworthy in this year’s Workshop is the facilitation of Colombian Navy’s (CN) intention to apply as an Observer. Once CN’s request is approved and adopted, WPNS membership will expand making the multilateral platform more effective in accomplishing its objectives in the region.
At present, the WPNS has 21 member countries- Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, France, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, South Korea, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, United States and Vietnam, along with four observer countries- Bangladesh, India, Mexico and Pakistan. Colombian Navy expressed their intention to apply as an observer and was represented by a flag rank officer accompanied by a senior officer.