Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore to Implement Transponder System for Small Harbor Craft to Further Enhance Maritime Security

1 July 2005

To further enhance the security of Singapore's port waters, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will soon require all licensed harbour and pleasure craft to carry transponders that would enable MPA and the security agencies to identify and track their movements.

The Harbour Craft Transponder System (HARTS) has been specially developed for small vessels which are not required to carry the Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders mandated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)'s International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.

Key features of the HARTS include:

  1. A1'Panic Button' to alert the shore-based authorities in the event of a security threat;
  2. Security features ensuring that each transponder unit will only work on the authorised craft;
  3. Ability to transmit craft identity, position, course and speed to shore-based authorities; and
  4. Use of existing telecommunications infrastructure (GPRS network) for transmission of data from the transponder unit to the shore-based control centres.

At less than $1,000 per unit, the HARTS transponder will be much lower cost than the AIS transponder at $7,000 - $10,000 per unit. Nonetheless, the Government will bear the cost of fitting HARTS transponders on all affected vessels.

The S$3.5 million contract for the supply of HARTS was awarded to ST Electronics (Info-Comm Systems) Pte Ltd on 10 June 2005. The installation of the transponders on the 3,000 or so affected vessels will be conducted in phases. The first batch of 500 transponders is expected to be installed by December 2005.

The MPA will be conducting a series of briefings for the harbour and pleasure craft community to advise them on the installation schedule.

Since the ISPS Code entered into force globally on 1 July 2004, compliance with the Code at all Singapore port facilities and Singapore-flagged vessels has remained high. Port facilities found to have lapses (e.g. failures to conduct the required security drills and patrols) during surprise checks and ad-hoc audits were issued with warnings and had their operations suspended until the problem areas were addressed and corrected.

Recognising that efforts to strengthen maritime and port security do not end with the implementation of the ISPS Code, the MPA has also put in place additional security controls and measures for small harbour craft, including:

  1. The Harbour Craft Security Code which provides practical security measures to be undertaken by all harbour craft in the port such as measures for access control, navigation, communications and ship-to-port facility activities.
  2. A Ship Self-Security Assessment Checklist to be completed prior to entry into the port. This helps to ensure the security preparedness and readiness of these vessels.

BG Tay Lim Heng, Chief Executive of the MPA said, "Maritime security remains a key priority for the Port of Singapore. Working closely with the security agencies, we implemented the IMO's ISPS Code in good time to cover our port facilities, as well as ships and harbour craft entering and operating within the port. To beef up our security, we are now implementing HARTS, which is an added measure beyond the ISPS Code. It will enable our agencies to keep an even closer watch over small craft in our waters."

End of Release.

Overview of HARTS System