SINGAPORE – The Police Coast Guard (PCG) has upgraded three types of its patrol boats to strengthen its ability to manage threats in Singapore’s waters.

The 42 new craft, which have been progressively deployed since last year, were commissioned by Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam on Thursday (June 30) at PCG’s headquarters in Pulau Brani.

They will replace older models and be part of the patrol fleet that safeguards Singapore’s coastline.

Mr Shanmugam said in his speech that the high volume of shipping traffic and porous nature of the maritime environment means Singapore is vulnerable to threats such as terrorist attacks or the smuggling of illegal immigrants and contraband.

He said that, last year, PCG arrested 24 illegal immigrants attempting to enter by sea and prevented more than 5,600 vessel intrusions into Singapore’s waters. This is an average of more than 15 intrusions prevented every day.

“The smugglers as well as illegal immigrants employ decoys and camouflage to avoid detection. They use faster boats, they try to breach our maritime defence and evade arrest.

“Our small sea space also gives us very little reaction time to respond to incoming threats before (they) reach our shores,” he added.

The PCG has thus made improvements to their patrol boats to increase effectiveness in detecting and neutralising such dangers.

The new boats comprise 24 fifth-generation PT class patrol boats, 10 three-series PC class patrol boats and eight third-generation PJ class interceptors.

The new fifth-generation PT class patrol boats will replace third-generation ones that were introduced in 1998. These are mainly deployed in the southern waters of Singapore, where the sea is rougher.