Call to expand joint patrols in piracy hot spots

Call to expand joint patrols in piracy hot spots
Rear-Admiral Lai Chung Han is the chief of the Republic of Singapore Navy.

After keeping pirates at bay in the Malacca Strait, Singapore and its neighbours want to expand their joint patrols in new piracy hot spots in the South China Sea.

Chief of Navy Lai Chung Han said he is in talks with his counterparts in the littoral states, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, to carry out joint patrols in the southern reaches of the South China Sea. The area and the Phillip Channel, which is 16km south of Singapore, were places highlighted by Rear-Admiral Lai as new piracy hot spots.

Hoping to start the joint patrols "sooner rather than later", he said Singapore is "more than ready to move on this".

According to the International Maritime Bureau, pirates attack one small coastal oil tanker every two weeks in the waters off South- east Asia.

RADM Lai said he is pushing for navies in the region to work together, amid the increasingly congested seas. He said that in 10 years, there will be more than 100 electric diesel submarines operating in the South China Sea and "it is a matter of time, if it remains unregulated, for there to be an underwater incident".

He will urge regional counterparts at the upcoming International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference Asia to share best practices in training and certification of submarines. "The more we share, the more we are prepared to be able to reduce the risk (at sea)."

While Singapore continues to build ties with other countries through defence diplomacy and multilateral forums, the Republic of Singapore Navy has to continue to become a "sharper, smarter and stronger" navy.

"The only reason why people, the Americans, the Chinese, the Japanese, will talk to us is that we have the capability. When they do exercises with us... it is not just for defence relations.

They get professional training working with us... (and) we become a partner of choice. It strengthens our position."

This article was first published on May 11, 2015.
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