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Malaysian and Japanese Warships Conduct Joint Exercise in South China Sea

A statement from the Japanese Ministry of Defense declared that the joint exercise between the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Royal Malaysian Navy is aimed at further strengthening the cooperation between the two naval forces towards realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — Royal Malaysian Navy vessels and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) conducted a joint exercise in the South China Sea from April 2nd to 5th.

The exercise featured the participation of the Murasame-class destroyer “JS Akebono” from the JMSDF, along with the Royal Malaysian Navy’s next-generation patrol ship, KD Selangor and a Littoral Mission Ship (LMS) KD Keris, both based at the Kota Kinabalu Naval Base.

According to a JMSDF social media statement, “Malaysia is a strategic hub facing the Indian Ocean, sharing similar maritime challenges and is a pivotal partner in achieving a #FreeOpenIndoPacific.”

The Japanese Ministry of Defense issued a statement saying that the joint exercise between JMSDF and the Royal Malaysian Navy aims to further strengthen cooperation between the two navies to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific.

This concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific is often championed by the United States and its allies in response to China’s aggressive claims over most of the South China Sea, a critical maritime region for global trade.



Beijing has also illegally occupied maritime features including rocks and atolls in the South China Sea, claiming them as its own, and has militarized some by transforming them into artificial islands.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense further stated that the objective of the joint exercise was to enhance JMSDF’s tactical capabilities and strengthen cooperation with the Royal Malaysian Navy.

The exercise was divided into two phases: the Harbor Phase from April 2nd to 5th, and the Sea Phase on April 5th, conducted around Kota Kinabalu Port and the coastal areas of Sabah in the South China Sea.

The Harbor Phase included training on raids and seizures, while the Sea Phase involved tactical maneuvering, communication drills, and PHOTOEX exercises.

Upon completing the joint training, the JS Akebono departed Sabah, believed to be heading towards the Philippines.



Launched in 1999 by Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI) and commissioned into the JMSDF in 2022, the JS Akebono is based in Kure, Hiroshima.

With a displacement between 4,500 and 6,200 tons, it carries a crew of 165. The ship is armed with a variety of weaponry, including a 76mm cannon, a 20mm cannon, SSM-1B anti-ship missiles, 324mm torpedoes, and the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) air defense system.

 It also carries an SH-60 anti-submarine helicopter.

The KD Keris is a Batch 1 Littoral Mission Ship (LMS), one of four patrol ships jointly constructed by the Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) and the China Shipbuilding and Offshore Corporation (CSOC) at the Wuchang Shipyard in Qidong, China, under a contract exceeding RM1 billion.

JS Akebono


It has a displacement of 700 tons and a length of 70 meters.

 The KD Selangor is one of six new-generation patrol ships from the Kedah-class, which includes KD Kedah, KD Pahang, KD Perak, KD Terengganu, and KD Kelantan. — DSA