The Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS) are critical and strategic waterways in the global trading system. Almost half of the world's total annual seaborne trade tonnage and 70% of Asia's oil imports pass through the SOMS. Moreover, the security of the straits cannot be tackled by any single country alone. The littoral states, user states and the international community need to co-operate and work together to ensure security and safety of the SOMS for all legitimate users.
The Malacca Straits Patrol Framework
The Malacca Straits Patrol (MSP) is a set of practical co-operative measures undertaken by Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand to ensure the security of the SOMS. It comprises the Malacca Straits Sea Patrol (MSSP), the "Eyes-in-the-Sky" (EiS) Combined Maritime Air Patrols, as well as the Intelligence Exchange Group (IEG). The member navies have regular meetings to enhance coordination and review the conduct of operations, and also engage in intelligence exchange and real-time information-sharing on suspicious contacts or incidents, cueing effective operational responses to maritime threats. The MSP's success in combating piracy and sea robbery can be seen by the Lloyd's Joint War Risk Committee's decision to drop the classification of the Malacca Strait as a "war-risk area" in 2006, following the MSP members' launch of sea and air patrols in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
a. Malacca Straits Sea Patrol (MSSP). The MSSP was launched in 2004 to enhance security in the SOMS, as well as to bolster existing bilateral arrangements. Under the MSSP, participating navies conduct co-ordinated sea patrols while facilitating the sharing of information between ships and their naval operational centres.
b. "Eyes-in-the-Sky" Combined Maritime Air Patrols (EiS). The EiS initiative is the conduct of combined maritime air patrol over the straits to reinforce sea patrols with air surveillance. Using maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, each MPA will carry a Combined Mission Patrol Team, comprising a Mission Commander from the host country and officers from the participating states.
c. MSP Intelligence Exchange Group (IEG). The MSP IEG was formed to support the sea and air patrols, leading to the development of an information-sharing platform called the Malacca Straits Patrol Information System (MSP-IS). The MSP-IS is managed by the Information Fusion Centre (IFC) and comprises an Open and Analysed Shipping Information System (OASIS) and Sense-Making Analysis and Research Tool (SMART). With the MSP-IS, air and sea assets deployed on scene can quickly pass information of an unfolding incident to all Monitoring and Action Agencies (MAAs) on a real-time basis. This enhances shared situation awareness and facilitates response co-ordination.
|Malacca Straits Sea Patrol launched by Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore
|"Eyes-in-the-Sky" combined maritime air patrols initiative launched
|Thailand joins as an observer
|Signing of the Malacca Straits Patrol Joint Co-ordinating Committee Terms of Reference and Standard Operating Procedures
|Malacca Straits Patrol Intelligence Exchange Group launched
|Inaugural Malacca Straits Patrol Information Sharing Exercise conducted
|Thailand becomes a full member of the Malacca Straits Patrol
|2nd Malacca Straits Patrol Information Sharing Exercise
|1st Malacca Straits Patrol Exercise
|2nd Malacca Straits Patrol Exercise
|3rd Malacca Straits Patrol Exercise
|4th Malacca Straits Patrol Exercise