Published: 21 July 2015
Commissioner of Police Hoong Wee Teck,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good morning. Today's Commissioning Ceremony of the Police Coast Guard's new Patrol Interdiction Boats and Second Generation PK Class High Speed Interceptors marks a significant milestone in the renewal and upgrading of PCG's operational capabilities.
Complex maritime environment
2. Our maritime environment poses many challenges. The volume of sea traffic entering our territorial waters is very high. More than 130,000 ships annually, or about 400 ships per day, call at our port, one of the busiest in the world. There is also a large volume of domestic sea traffic. Many other vessels pass through our waters in the Straits of Singapore, one of the busiest sea lanes in the world.
3. The distance between our international boundary and the Singapore shoreline is short, in some places less than 500m. This gives us little reaction time and space to respond to any sea-borne threats before it reaches our shoreline – which could be less than a minute for a boat travelling at high speed.
4. This large number and variety of vessels within and across our waters, coupled with our lack of maritime space, pose challenges to our maritime security forces every day.
Policing our territorial waters
5. The security threats to our maritime environment are becoming increasingly complex. In October last year, Al-Qaeda called for the disruption of global trade and shipping through acts of piracy, among other tactics. Tankers in the Straits of Malacca and US naval warships berthed in ports in the region were also mentioned as possible targets.
6. Illegal immigrants and smugglers have also become more sophisticated and well-organised in their activities. They now employ decoys and camouflage, conduct reconnaissance, and use faster boats that attempt to breach our maritime defence or make dangerous manoeuvers to evade arrest.
7. Despite these challenges, in 2014, PCG arrested 46 illegal immigrants attempting to enter by sea, and successfully prevented more than 7,000 suspicious vessels, or 20 per day, from intruding into our waters.
Enhancements in PCG's capabilities
8. PCG adopts a three-pronged approach of detection, deterrence and interception to protect our maritime waters. To enhance its effectiveness in detecting and neutralising maritime threats, PCG has been making technological and resource improvements in each of these three areas. For example, to enhance PCG's detection capabilities, we will nearly double the number of Electro-Optic (EO) cameras deployed around the island to monitor our waters. PCG will also analyse information tagged to vessel transponders and radar tracks, to detect anomalies in our waters and flag out vessels that potentially pose a higher threat. The PCG Command, Control and Communications (or C3) system will also be progressively upgraded to enhance coordination between PCG's Operations Centre and its sea and land resources, to detect and intercept intruding boats more quickly. PCG is also closely integrated with the Maritime and Port Authority, and the Maritime Security Task Force, to provide a picture of our surrounding waters, both within and beyond our territorial waters.
9. To increase deterrence, PCG is putting up an additional 80km of land- and sea-based barriers along our shoreline to deter illegal landings, more than doubling the current length of 63km.
Interception: Capabilities of PCG's new boats
10. The 11 Patrol Interdiction Boats (PIBs) and six 2nd Generation PK Class High Speed Interceptors that will be commissioned today are part of PCG's ongoing efforts to renew and upgrade its interception capabilities. The Patrol Interdiction Boats can achieve speeds in excess of 45 knots (or 80 kmh) and come with armour protection. They also have beaching capabilities, allowing PCG officers to dismount on land quickly to continue pursuit if their target gets to shore. These Patrol Interdiction Boats are also equipped with a Stabilised Naval Gun System, which can track targets automatically and is more accurate, if our PCG officers have to stop hostile boats from intruding into our waters.
11. The 2nd Generation PK boats are operated by PCG's elite Special Task Squadron, which deals primarily with aggressive, fast-moving sea-borne threats. These high speed interceptors have improved manoeuvrability and speeds in excess of 55 knots (100 kmh). This is a significant improvement from the current boats, which have top speeds of 45 knots.
12. Together with our current fleet, these new boats will enable PCG to intercept and deal more decisively with intruding boats which are becoming faster and better equipped, before the intruding boats reach our shores.
Training of PCG officers
13. Beyond new boats and equipment, the vigilance and skill of our PCG officers are key to enhancing the operational capabilities of PCG. Our officers need to continually hone their skills in order to fully utilise the capabilities of these new boats to intercept intruders effectively and swiftly, with due regard to their own safety. Our PCG officers use state-of-the-art simulators for rigorous and realistic scenario-based tactical boat handling and firearms training. They also train in our actual operational terrain to further sharpen their boat interception skills. Such training is critical to better prepare our officers to deal with the multi-faceted threats at the frontline of our sea borders.
14. Our maritime security depends on the constant vigilance and efforts of our ground units and officers. The PCG's new boats will provide our officers with significantly improved interception capabilities. Working closely together, the PCG and Singapore's maritime agencies strengthen our ability to safeguard our waters and sea borders for the benefit of Singaporeans and the international shipping community.
15. May our officers serve Singapore with courage and distinction on these newly commissioned vessels. Thank you.