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Wednesday March 28, 2007

Singapore to build new command center for maritime security

SINGAPORE: Singapore is building a joint command center that will house three maritime groups under one roof to increase coordination against threats at sea, the Defense Ministry announced Wednesday. 

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday for the Changi Command and Control Center, which is expected to be operational in 2009 to coordinate local, regional and international security efforts to deal with threats such as piracy and terrorist attacks on ships. 

The center, to be located beside the Changi naval base, will house the Singapore Maritime Security Center, the Information Fusion Center and the Multinational Operations and Exercises Center. 

"The trans-boundary nature of maritime crime and terrorism, coupled with the limited resources of states, demand that security and enforcement agencies, port authorities and shipping associations, come together to cooperate in the maritime security domain,'' Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean was quoted as saying at the ceremony by The Straits Times. 

In a statement, the ministry said the center will provide a "useful platform for nations to cooperate and respond more flexibly and effectively to a dynamic maritime security environment.'' 

It said the Multinational Operations and Exercises Center can also function as a regional disaster relief center if the need arises. 

Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia have in recent years coordinated maritime and air patrols in the Malacca Strait. 

Pirate attacks in the Malacca Strait, which carries half the world's oil and more than a third of its commerce, have been on the decline since July 2005, with 11 cases last year. - AP

For another perspective from The Straits Times, a partner of Asia News Network, click here.

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