Naval Strategies: How Brunei Navy operates to fight Maritime Crimes

Naval Strategies: How Brunei Navy operates to fight Maritime Crimes
  • PublishedFebruary 28, 2023
KDB Darulaman OPV-08 Darussalam-class off the shore patrol ship of the Royal Brunei Navy.

The Royal Brunei Navy is a small but efficient fleet of vessels with a duty to defend its country from threats originating from in and around Brunei waters. As part of its naval strategy to safeguard its territory, it forms alliances with neighbors and international partners to boost its capabilities. In the process, this Navy combats crimes such as smuggling and illegal fishing, protecting its marine ecology in the process.

History of the Royal Brunei Navy

The Royal Brunei Navy (RBN) was formed on June 14, 1965, as a part of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces. At first, it had three river patrol aluminum boats and was the Boat Section of the armed forces. As the country grew stronger economically, its name changed to the Boat Company.

It then received its first fast patrol boat in 1968, which became its flagship. Three years later, the First Sea Battalion got two more coastal patrol vessels, having undergone a further name change. Officially Brunei’s term for its Navy was the First Sea Battalion, Royal Brunei Malay Regiment in Malay. In the Malayan language, this name was Angkatan Laut Pertama, Askar Melayu DiRaja Brunei (ALP AMDB).

On October 1, 1991, the First Sea Battalion was called the Royal Brunei Navy. This new name followed its independence from British rule on January 1, 1984, and the growth of its armed forces.

The RBN has its base in Muara. It is a small maritime force but has adequate vessels to support its search and rescue missions. Another primary responsibility of the RBN is to protect its country from sea-borne threats.

Royal Brunei Navy collaborations, fighting crime, and threats

Because Brunei is a small country, its Navy is also small, so it must form international cooperation to bolster its protective abilities. Although the RBNs primary purpose has been to patrol its shores, it must defend itself against various crimes on the high waters. To do so, it must develop specific strategic defenses.

International collaboration

Like the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), the RBN organizes regional and international collaborative exercises and partnerships. The RBN engages in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), which involves divisions of the U.S. Navy, Armed Forces, and U.S. Coast Guard for the Pacific Area.

Due to its links with the Commonwealth, Brunei conducts joint exercises and training with the Australian Navy. Members of the RBN also further their training in countries with which Brunei has friendly relations, including India, the U.K., U.S., Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Naval exercises and training with partners include underwater ops, night encounter exercises, mine clearance, various drills and other tactical exercises. Most of these maritime training events occur with the participating countries’ military, air forces and coast guards.

How The Royal Brunei Navy fights naval crimes

The Brunei Navy’s primary roles include defending and deterring attacks from the sea. These attacks may include piracy, terrorism, drug or human trafficking, or other crimes. Another of the Navy’s roles is safeguarding its marine resources, its sea lines of communication (SLOC) and conducting surveillance of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Beyond crime fighting, this naval force conducts search and rescue ops. Its other duties include supporting the Brunei air force, military, security agencies, and other ministries when mandated to do so.

Royal Brunei Navy threats and enemies

Brunei faces threats and enemies in several guises, including disagreements on the high seas, territorial maritime disputes, and crimes between countries. This country also faces illegal activities like traffic and smuggling.

According to the RBN, the best way to deal with these threats is to face them head-on. One way to do this is through joint enforcement initiatives. Coordinated law enforcement involves working with other task forces, such as the police reserve unit, the armed forces, and the customs and excise division.

Another naval strategy is to ensure understanding between the personnel of the RBN and its ASEAN partners. Understanding the diverse cultures and working together will strengthen each other’s efforts in dealing with threats on the waterways.

Future of the Royal Brunei Navy

Future plans for the RBN include acquiring a new patrol vessel, Fearless-class. It also has plans to purchase the Fearless-class patrol vessels that the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) intends retiring in the future.

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