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Ferry operators take part in biennial multi-agency maritime security drill for first time

Ferry operators take part in biennial multi-agency maritime security drill for first time

SINGAPORE – A “terrorist” speedboat on its way towards Singapore from the east coast was swiftly intercepted by a police coast guard vessel after the authorities received intelligence of suspicious activity.

As part of the heightened security level, a Singapore navy littoral mission vessel, RSS Independence, moved in to divert maritime traffic and secure the area.

Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers conducted enhanced security checks at the nearby Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, while the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore worked with ferry operators to reschedule ferry movements and inform travellers of the change in plans.

This two-hour demonstration on land and at sea on Monday (Oct 21) was part of the biennial Exercise Highcrest meant to test the national agencies’ coordinated response to maritime security threats.

It was the first time commercial partners – ferry operators and the Singapore Cruise Centre, which manages Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal – were involved in the exercise.

There were more than 200 participants in the exercise, which started on Oct 16 and ends on Tuesday.

Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How and Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min witnessed the exercise on Monday, along with Chief of Navy, Rear-Admiral Lew Chuen Hong.

Mr Heng said that with heavy traffic in Singapore’s waters, some of the ships could turn rogue and attack Singapore targets.

“(In such a case), how do we then be preemptive about it and be very coordinated, to be very exercised, so that our reflexes are very finely honed,” he told reporters.

Dr Lam said maritime security was of utmost importance, with almost seven million passengers passing through Singapore’s ferry terminals every year.