S'pore Navy inaugurates new flotilla with four refurbished Sentinel-class vessels after 2020's rise in pirate attacks

34 incidents of piracy and armed robbery were reported in the Singapore Strait in 2020.

Andrew Koay | January 26, 2021, 08:29 PM

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A new flotilla was inaugurated by the Republic of Singapore Navy on Jan. 26.

The Maritime and Security Response Flotilla (MSRF) will start off operating four Sentinel-class Maritime Security and Response Vessels (MSRVs) and two Maritime Security and Response Tugboats (MSRTs).

This is intended to help meet the increased demands of maritime security operations while shoring up Singapore's ability to protect against maritime threats.

Infographic describing the navy's new flotilla Image from MINDEF

The four MSRVs are refurbished Fearless-class patrol boats that have been refitted to extend their operation lifespan.

They will also be installed with a range of calibrated capabilities, including:

  • Enhanced communications equipment
  • Improved visual and audio warning systems
  • A fender system, which allows it to come alongside other vessels more quickly
  • Modular ballistic protection

Clear and present security threats

The addition comes after Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen noted maritime threats as one of the "clear and present security threats", during the 2020 Committee of Supply debates.

Maritime security — along with counter-terrorism efforts and cybersecurity — required major restructuring efforts by the SAF, Ng had said, noting spike in recent years of piracy and intrusion into Singapore's waters.

The Singapore Strait experienced 34 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in 2020, an increase from the 31 recorded in 2019, according to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia Information Sharing Centre (ReCAAP ISC).

Asia as a whole reported a total of 97 incidents.

One January 2020 incident in the Singapore Strait saw six to seven pirates boarding a barge and making away with scrap metal, in two to three sampans.

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Top image from MINDEF

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