Myanmar’s navy is going to take part in a 5 day trip to maritime exercise led by United States in the Gulf of Thailand. On that point, Myanmar navy will join with seven ASEAN navies.

The exercise will begin from September. According to a citing in Facebook, Navy Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Moe Aung posted on Monday that his frigate F-12, a 100-crew-carrying ship known locally as Kyan Sitt Thar warship, has departed Yangon and set its course for ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise (AUMX).

The military newspaper Myawaddy and the Facebook page of the Myanmar navy reported that a delegation is being led by Lieutenant Colonel Khun Aung Kyaw and naval drills are planned to take place from September 2 to 6, with warships from at least seven ASEAN countries in the first-ever Asean-US Maritime Exercise (AUMX).

The exercise that will involve at least eight ships along with aircraft, will start at Sattahip naval base in Chonburi province, Thailan and extend to the tip of Vietnam’s southernmost province of Ca Mau.

The US-led exercise is intended to strengthen ties between the US and ASEAN militaries in an effort to balance China’s maritime influence in the region, especially in the South China Sea according to the regional experts.

A statement released on 2nd August by US state department said, it would be co-hosting the inaugural AUMX with Thailand to “build capacity in maritime domain awareness, information sharing, and sea interdiction” among ASEAN militaries and navies.

It is worth mentioning that last October an ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise was held off Zhanjiang, in Guangdong province.

The US placed sanctions earlier this year on top Myanmar military figures, making joint naval drills between the two countries controversial and possibly in opposition to stated US policy.

Earlier this year on 16th July, the United States announced sanctions against the Myanmar military’s Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing and other leaders. The UN fact-finding mission called the military’s “crimes against humanity” carried out with “genocidal intent” against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority in 2017. A report from ICC states they are responsible for extrajudicial killings of Rohingya Muslims.