World Maritime Day: Saluting Our Frontliners And Those Who Protect Our SLOCs
STORY: Ng Kai
30 September 2021
World Maritime Day (celebrated on 30 Sep this year) throws the spotlight on the importance of shipping safety, maritime security, and the marine environment - if you think this has nothing to do with you, who are lying on your sofa, fully vaccinated, sipping kopi and scrolling through Wonderwall.sg, you're mistaken.
International shipping accounts for more than eighty percent of global trade to people all over the world - you wouldn't be enjoying that cuppa otherwise.
This year's theme is "Seafarers at the core of shipping's future". Indeed, seafarers are essential workers on the front line of delivering vital goods on a daily basis, what more during a pandemic.
SLOCs? What's that?
Equally, if not more, important are the sea lines of communications (or SLOCs), principal maritime routes between naval ports which serve as the arteries of a region's economy, and are used for trade, military and other purposes.
These were brought to our attention in March this year when the Ever Given, a 400m long megaship, got stuck in the Suez Canal, causing not only a pile-up of shipping vessles on both ends of the waterway, but also an obstruction of SLOCs in that region.
Who protects our SLOCs?
In 2020, Singapore ranked first for seven consecutive years as the world's most important shipping hub - no easy feat for a Little Red Dot. And that's where the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) comes in, ensuring that our SLOCs not only stay open but also serve as safe bodies of transport.
Pirates are a very real threat in our waters - even COVID-19 hasn't stopped them doing their dastardly deeds. In January this year alone, three incidents were reported in the eastbound lane of the Singapore Strait (that's north-west of Bintan, Indonesia). Last year, 34 incidents of piracy took place in our waters - the highest number in five years. 😩 And that's why the RSN is always on its toes.
To ensure that maritime trade continues to flow smoothly into Singapore waters, our frontliners at the Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF) stand guard 24/7. Besides daily patrols by our littoral mission vessels (LMVs), the Accompanying Sea Security Teams (ASSeTs) keep up daily boarding inspections, as deterrence against potential threats.
For more information on the navy or if you're thinking of a naval career, click here.