Reported as US praises Malaysia and others for anti-piracy steps:
Nations bordering the once pirate-infested Malacca Strait in Southeast Asia have made significant progress ousting the sea robbers, senior U.S. naval commanders said this week at an international navy conference in Waikiki.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore began coordinating their sea patrols of the narrow waterway - through which half the world's oil trade and a third of global commerce passes - in July 2004.
They started air patrols last year.
U.S. leaders had voiced concerns terrorists could ally themselves with pirates already established in the strait to blow up an oil tanker or turn ships into floating bombs.
But there have been only three sea robberies in the Malacca Strait in the first half of this year compared to 18 cases last year and 38 in 2004, according to Malaysia's Defence Ministry.
Adm. Gary Roughead, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, said the success countries along the strait have had beating back piracy showed the value of using sensors and tracking systems to monitor ships.
Having protocols in place allowing countries to share the information was also important, he said.
"If something appears to depart from the norm, then you can act upon it. And they have done that,'' Roughead said Thursday.
"As a result of it, piracy or sea robbery ... is down.''
Both Mullen and Roughead said the ability of countries to keep track of small boats would be key to international efforts to boost maritime security in the future.
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