Singapore to Beef up Maritime Security Task Force to Deal with Piracy

  • Our Bureau
  • 09:15 AM, February 4, 2020
  • 2611
Singapore to Beef up Maritime Security Task Force to Deal with Piracy

Singapore Plans to restructure its Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF) and beef up its assets to deal with piracy in the Straits of Malacca, a crucial waterway connecting Asia to the rest of the world.

"That review is expected to be complete in the next few months," Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Monday in a written reply to a parliamentary question by Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), according to a Singapore MoD release.

Dr Ng noted that the number of piracy and sea robbery in the waterway "fluctuates considerably from year to year". There were 48 cases in 2014, 104 in 2015 and 31 last year. In the remaining seven years of the last decade, there was an average of 12 incidents annually.

While piracy had not shown a sustained rising trend, extra measures are useful to prevent a further rise in the number of sea robbery and piracy in the Singapore Strait, he said.

The MSTF of the Singapore Navy works with law enforcement and maritime agencies to guard Singapore's waters, including conducting daily patrols as well as boarding and escort operations in the Singapore Strait.

To battle the pirates, Dr Ng said the Singapore Navy, among other things, works daily with other local maritime agencies such as the Police Coast Guard and Maritime and Port Authority, through the Singapore Maritime Crisis Centre.

"Most recently, at the 14th Malacca Straits Patrol (MSP) Joint Coordination Committee meeting, the navies of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand revised the MSP standard operating procedures to enhance the region's ability to tackle sea robbery in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore," he said.

The countries are committed to holding quarterly exercises to improve information exchange processes, and will use a new set of indicators to help identify anything suspicious when investigating sea robberies.

He said that all pirates and robbers in the Singapore Strait so far are based and operate outside Singapore's territorial waters, and the Republic wants to share more information and intelligence with Malaysia and Indonesia.

On Tuesday, the Indonesian Navy (TNI AL) also upped the security by deploying a Helly BO 105 helicopter to support marine security operations in the Malacca Strait and Singapore Strait. 

"The aerial observation conducted by Helly BO 105 will help chase illegal perpetrators who run away to areas which Indonesian warships find difficult to reach," Commander of Marine Security Forces Vice Admiral Yayan Sofiyan said.