Subject: update: U.S. gives RI 15 patrol boats, demands nothing in return

The Jakarta Post

Friday, January 18, 2008

U.S. gives 15 patrol boats to Indonesia, demands nothing in return

Fadli, The Jakarta Post, Batam

The United States government delivered 15 patrol boats on Thursday to the National Police in Batam, Riau Islands, as part of a grant from the International Criminal Investigative Assistance Program (ICITAP).

The ceremony was marked by the signing of a grant agreement between United States Ambassador Cameron Hume and National Police Chief Gen. Sutanto in Batam.

Sutanto said the U.S. government provided the vessels without making any demands of Indonesia.

Sutanto said the vessels would be stationed in four risk-prone and strategically located areas.

Four vessels would be placed in Batam, four in Bangka Belitung, two in Bitung (North Sulawesi) and five in Tarakan (East Kalimantan).

"Those stationed in Riau Islands will focus on securing the Malacca Strait," Sutanto said.

"They are assigned to protect Indonesian waters from various crimes.

"We hope they will be of great benefit to boost security along the vital strait."

Sutanto said the Japanese government had also previously provided the Indonesian Police with patrol vessels to safeguard the busiest waterway from widespread piracy.

"The Indonesian Police are serious in protecting the Malacca Strait from piracy.

"Police were able to arrest perpetrators in waters off Cirebon recently, which shows we are serious in dealing with the problem."

The patrol vessels are capable of traveling at a speed of up to 46 knots. they are nine meters long and can carry 10 crew members and 1,135 liters of fuel.

They are also equipped with global positioning systems which can be monitored by the National Police headquarters in Jakarta.

The vessels are set to be operated by Water Police units in various areas which have received training from the ICITAP.

"We are not aware of the worth of the grant. We have just been provided with the vessels," Sutanto said.

He said he initially floated the idea of requesting assistance when he was still the head of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN).

At that time, raw materials for producing drugs were being smuggled mainly by sea, he said.

"The assistance is only realized now after I became the police chief. It will reinforce our fleet," he said.

In his keynote address, Ambassador Cameron Hume said the grant of patrol vessels was part of the successful cooperation between both democratic countries.

He said the grant was expected to create a sense of security and would enhance the Indonesian Police's ability in carrying out their duties.

Cameron said he had noticed vast improvements under Gen. Sutanto's leadership. He said the police were more focussed now on protecting citizens, when earlier they had been more involved in protecting the state.

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