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  • Writer's pictureShaun Robertson

What Is Singapore Doing to Combat Piracy?

Singapore is a nation between two of the most prolific piracy spots in the world, the Malacca Straits and the Singapore Straits. As the world’s 19th largest trading nation, the world’s 5th most trade-dependent country, one of the busiest oil refining hubs and the second busiest port in the world, Singapore has a vested interest in reducing piracy in the region.

There are four main branches of the government of Singapore to consider when understanding how the country tackles piracy.

1. The Port Authority

The first is the Maritime Port Authority. The port authority is responsible for ensuring ships have safe passage in and out of Singapore’s waters and ports. They also communicate with the maritime industry to raise awareness of piracy and help with the reporting of piracy incidents through organisations such as ReCaap.

"There are four main branches of the government of Singapore to consider when understanding how the country tackles piracy".

2. The Police Coast Guard

The Police Coast Guard are responsible for incidents within Singapore’s territorial waters. Incidents in this territory would be classed as armed robbery at sea rather than piracy as they do not occur on international waters. As a result, the Police Coast Guard take up the role of patrols, investigations, arrests and surveillance as armed robbery is considered a domestic crime. They work closely with the port authority to help tackle threats and communicate information.

3. The Singapore Navy

The Republic of Singapore Navy, whilst also being responsible for the maritime defence of the country, is also responsible for responding to piracy events in international waters. As the geography of the region means that territorial waters only extend up to 12 nautical miles at a strait (as defined in UNCLOS), the navy is responsible for countering piracy out with these boundaries. Moreover, as most pirates operate outside the territory of Singapore, the navy plays an important role.

4. the Maritime Task Force

The Maritime Security Task Force links all three branches. The task force's purpose is to help coordinate the branches for efficient counter-piracy operations. Moreover, they are also involved with international information sharing with regional partners and helping the maritime industry by highlighting best practices for hardening vessels to delay boardings. The Maritime Security Task Force also houses the Information Fusion Centre (IFC), which helps regional information sharing with military and civilian operations.

Singapore also works closely with its neighbours and international partners to combat piracy. The Malacca Straits patrol consists of cooperation between Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, which involves air and sea patrols and information sharing to help reduce piracy in the Malacca Straits.

Also - International Liason Officers

Singapore also has International Liason Officers with the IFC which helps regional cooperation where Singapore cannot operate due to rights of sovereignty. International exercises also play a role in training and regional cooperation. Singapore has undertaken yearly exercises since 2002 with the United States and other regional powers to be at top readiness for combating terrorism and piracy.

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Overall, Singapore is a small nation with much to lose from any interference with its maritime trade. As a result, the country is committed to combating piracy in the region. Still, this task is made difficult by the area's geography, creating sovereignty issues that prevent Singapore from following pirates into another country’s waters.

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