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Friday, July 01, 2005

Singapore beefs up maritime security

Reported here, Singapore is adding more layers of security:
Singapore will require small harbor and pleasure craft to be fitted with transponders as part of security measures to counter terror and piracy threats, the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) said Friday.
The MPA said the Harbor Craft Transponder System (HARTS) has been developed for use by smaller vessels outside the coverage of security rules mandated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) which covers bigger ships.

The transponders will enable the vessels to transmit their identity, position, course, and speed to authorities onshore.

They will also contain a "panic button" to alert land-based authorities in the event of a security threat.

"Maritime security remains a key priority for the Port of Singapore," MPA chief executive Tay Lim Heng said in a statement.

Tay said Singapore -- one of the world's busiest container ports -- had already implemented security regulations required by the IMO under the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code.

But this code covered only the bigger vessels, and the city-state wanted to go a step further.

"To beef up our security, we are now implementing HARTS, which is an added measure beyond the ISPS code. It will enable our agencies to keep an even closer watch over small craft in our waters," he said.

The first batch of transponders, costing 1,000 Singapore dollars (595 US) each, would be installed in December. The government has agreed to bear the costs of fitting the estimated 3,000 affected vessels with HARTS.

Singapore authorities have issued regular warnings about a possible seaborne attack carried out by terrorists using ships as weapons of mass destruction.

They have said this could either involve a vessel packed with explosives being rammed into port or into another seacraft in the busy Singapore Strait and adjacent Malacca Strait to cripple global trade.
Seems like a good idea to me.

In fact, it's similar in concept to what I suggest at the end of this.

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