Piracy and sea robbery incidents in the South East Asia region have sharply dwindled by 62 per cent to 76 incidents from 2015-2018, according to a Singapore-based multi-national maritime security information centre which links ships and ocean monitoring with 41 countries, including India. An average of 1,700 incidents per year was reported for the last few years in the immediate region of Singapore, noted Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Defence Maliki Bin Osman as the Information Fusion Centre (IFC) provided insights into its monitoring efforts at the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference here.
From 2015 to 2018, piracy and sea robbery incidents in the region have declined from 200 to 76 incidents, which is a drop of 62 per cent. In particular, there has been a 92 per cent drop in piracy and sea robbery incidents in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, The IFC reported. "This is a tip of the iceberg, as there are more cases which go unreported, adding to the magnitude and complexity of the problem," said Maliki, recalling the 2008 deadliest attack on several locations in Mumbai by terrorists who made their way from Pakistan by boat to carry out the coordinated attack in Mumbai.
Felicitating IFC on its 10th anniversary, Maliki underlined that information-sharing continues to be relevant, and more critical than before. "There are many 'unknown unknowns' in the maritime environment such as unidentified vessels, unreported illegal activities, and smuggling routes," he pointed out.
"In fact, what happens in your immediate waters could invariably affect the security of mine." Information sharing can bridge these information and time gaps, by providing actionable information to the correct parties, for operational responses, he pointed.
"This is why the IFC was established, he stressed, adding that it was born out of necessity in 2009 to help manage the full range of maritime security threats in this region." The IFC is one of the most comprehensive maritime monitoring set up and brings together Open & Analysed Shipping Information System with India's Maritime Surveillance Information System, Italy's Virtual Regional Maritime Traffic Centre and Brazil's Maritime Traffic Information System.
It has upgraded its Real-time Information-Sharing System (IRIS) which was launched on 14 May 2019 at the Changi Command and Control Centre where it is hosted by the Republic of Singapore Navy. Over the last decade, the IFC has been at the forefront of providing actionable information to cue responses by regional and international navies, coast guards and other maritime agencies to deal with the full range of Maritime Security (MARSEC) threats and incidents.
"While the IFC's model has served as us well, we must continually seek ways to stay relevant. In today's digital age, information flows much faster and easier across multiple domains," said Maliki.
(With inputs from agencies.)