Singapore’s $3.5m-plan to track small vessels

Updated On: Jul 05, 2005

Singapore – To tighten security in Singaporean waters, the government is spending $3.5 million to equip bumboats, private yachts and other small pleasure craft with tracking devices.

    The Singapore-made device, harbour craft transponder system (Harts), allows the authorities to tell a boat's identity, location, course of direction and speed. The gadget, which costs less than $1,000, has safeguards to ensure that each device works only on the authorised craft. It can also alert the authorities to hijacks or pirate attacks.  
    The first batch of 500 Harts is expected to be installed by December. Singapore has some 3,000 small vessels.
     Mr Jeffrey Chen, from the Centre for Maritime Policy of Australia’s University of Wollongong, applauded the measure, given the risks of maritime terrorism in the region. 
    The Malacca Strait, used by more than 50,000 vessels a year, is infested with pirates. Last year, there were 37 pirate attacks. 
    "There have been cases where the attacks were launched from small boats, which can move quickly and even sink large, slower ships," Mr Chen said.
     The move to install Harts at the government's expense supplements an international maritime security code governing only ships above 500 gross tones, requiring them to carry tracking devices to thwart terrorist attacks at sea.

* Small vessels get free tracking device (The Straits Times, July 2)