There has been very little involvement from regional security forces in Southeast Asia amid the recent attacks on six shipping vessels in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) of the Singapore Strait despite local VTIS broadcast reports of incidents, maritime security firm Dryad Maritime said in an analysis.
Over two nights, 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).
According to Dryad, the response of deploying a patrol boat to the area after the event can be seen as too little, too late.
These 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.
“These events show a need for a permanent security presence in this area during the hours of darkness and, until this has been put in place, these boardings and robberies can be expected to continue unhindered. Until such time as a patrol is put in place, 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 said.
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.
As explained, 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 crewmembers are compliant in order to avoid the risk of physical attack by potentially armed criminals.