20 Agustus 2014
TNI AL KCR-40 FAC-M (photo : Kaskus Militer)
The Indonesian Navy's (Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL's) Western Fleet Command (Komando Armada RI Kawasan Barat - KOARMABAR) will receive an additional four KCR-40 missile attack craft by the end of 2014 to strengthen its regional maritime interdiction capabilities.
Speaking to IHS Jane's on 14 August in Jakarta, KOARMABAR chief of staff Commodore Amarulla Octavian described the additional vessels, which have a top speed of 30 kt, as instrumental in strengthening the command's surveillance, patrol, and interception capabilities in its area of operations. This area includes the piracy-prone Strait of Malacca, as well as the disputed maritime regions of Tanjung Datu and the Natuna Islands.
Overall, the TNI-AL currently operates a class of four KCR-40 vessels out of an expected class of up to 24. Two boats, KRI Clurit and KRI Kujang , are assigned to KOARMABAR and completed sea acceptance trials for the C-705 surface-to-surface missile fire-control system in July.
"The additional vessels would give us a total class size of six boats for the command by the end of 2014", said Cdre Octavian, who also confirmed that KOARMABAR intends to employ the 44 m vessels to assist with tackling maritime piracy in the Strait of Malacca, as well as securing Indonesia's maritime borders and wider interests at sea.
Recent figures published by the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) suggest a deterioration in the Southeast Asian maritime security situation. In its first quarter report for 2014, the counter-piracy body recorded eight incidents in the Malacca and Singapore straits, compared with a total of five incidents for the whole of 2012 and 2013.
Recent high-profile incidents include the attacks on the cargo ship Naniwa Maru No. 1 in April 2014 near Port Klang, Malaysia, which resulted in 2,500 tonnes of Marine Diesel Oil being siphoned, and on the tanker GPT 21 in November 2013, with 10 armed pirates boarding the vessel off Pulau Kukup in the Strait of Malacca.
Yet despite the debate about whether littoral states should increase patrols in affected areas, Cdre Octavian argued that regional maritime piracy cannot be solved with increased vessel numbers alone. "To tackle the problem, we have to start looking on land rather than at sea", he said.
"There needs to be greater co-ordination between the anti-piracy bodies and navies when it comes to investigation efforts and information sharing. Currently what we have are reports and incident alerts. What we need are follow-up actions such as joint investigative efforts between navies in the region and the anti-piracy bodies", said the commodore, adding that Indonesia stands ready to provide information on piracy investigations it has conducted should other parties request it.
In terms of whether Indonesia might participate in ReCAAP activities, Cdre Octavian replied that the TNI-AL respects ReCAAP's work and would co-operate fully with the organisation with regards to information sharing. He stopped short, however, of commenting on whether Indonesia might join the multinational body in the future.