Batam – Ships plying the Singapore Strait can hope for better security following the launch of a joint monitoring system in the area by the Singapore and Indonesian navies. The system will allow the two navies to share surveillance information about the sea lane, which is located between Singapore and Batam island, electronically.
For example, Indonesia’s naval base at Batam can find out, at any time of the day, the identity, speed and course of each ship passing through the strait at the same time as the Republic of Singapore Navy gets such data.
The two navies will also be able to exchange e-mail, making it easier for them to coordinate patrols. In the past, phone, fax and radio were used to send the data.
Project Surpic (short for surface picture) was launched by Indonesian Naval Chief of Staff Admiral Slamet Subijanto and Singapore’s Navy chief, Rear Admiral Ronnie Tay, at the Indonesian naval base in Batam on May 27.
Adm Subijanto said the system can also help the navies to anticipate any form of criminal acts in the strait, through which about 1,000 vessels pass through daily. "Now, there’s probably no target we can’t detect,” he said.
Rear Adm Tay added: “With this, the two navies will be better able to monitor the sea situation as well as exchange information on a real-time basis more efficiently and effectively.” He said constant vigilance is needed to protect ships in the strait because they represent “attractive targets for terrorist groups that seek to make grand political statements, and also for sea robbers who seek to make a quick buck."
According to the London-based International Maritime Bureau, two pirate attacks took place in the Singapore Strait in the first three months of this year, compared to six attacks during the same period last year.
* Singapore, Indonesia share sea security info (The Straits Times, May 28)
* RI, Singapore navies launch joint marine monitoring system (Antara, May 27)