Singapore Strait attacks underscore need for patrols

AUGUST 25, 2015 — U.K. based Dryad Maritime says that a slew of recent piracy incidents in the Singapore Strait show a need for a permanent security presence in this area during the hours of darkness and says that, "until this has been put in place, these boardings and robberies can be expected to continue unhindered."

Dryad's warning comes in the wake of a series of six incidents this past weekend, all apparently involving the same gang. As we reported yesterday, six vessels experienced either boarding or attempted boardings in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) of the Singapore Strait.  All the incidents were reported to Singapore Vessel Tracking Support System (VTIS).

Although local VTIS have broadcast reports of incidents, notes Dryad, there has been very little involvement from regional security forces.

"The response of deploying a patrol boat to the area after the event can be seen as too little, too late," it says, adding that hese latest incidents take the total number of vessels reporting similar cases within the Singapore Strait to 75 in 2015, with 27 being reported in the last 10 weeks within a 15 nautical mile (NM) radius of Pulau Nipah.
"Until such time as a patrol is put in place, says Dryad, "it is left to individual vessels to make their own security arrangements. As shown in a number of cases, the swift actions of an alert crew can often be sufficient to thwart potential robberies."

Dryad recommends all low access points, non-essential entry and exit points and machinery compartments are secured and that extra lookouts should be posted while in the Straits.

Extra vigilance by patrols and lookouts, and increased security measures will mitigate the risk from petty theft.
Such incidents are opportunistic in nature with no particular type of vessel targeted. A high visual presence on the upper deck is often enough to prevent a vessel being targeted, patrols should ideally consist of at least two crewmembers.

Early identification of any potential threat will allow crew members time to raise the alarm, which will result in criminals fleeing the scene in the majority of cases.

If boarded, Dryad recommends that crew members be compliant in order to avoid the risk of physical attack by potentially armed criminals.

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