Regional Maritime Security: The Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Over the summer months Allmode Security Services will issue ‘Security Reports’ covering the regions of Southeast Asia. The purpose of these reports are to aid vessels and their crews with up to date information that will help them build better knowledge of an area and thus improve their situational awareness.
Situational Awareness (SA) is all about having the information you need to make effective decisions. There will always be occasions when people are required to make critical choices – sometimes at a fast pace – and the vast majority of errors that can occur are as a direct result of failure in situational awareness.
For the majority of vessels and crew visiting Southeast Asia, it will be a very familiar sight, however for some it may be their first time and often, as with many locations across the globe, looks can be deceiving and can lull people into a false sense of security.
Below are exerpts from the full report:
The Andaman Islands:
The Andaman Islands are situated about 450 nm northwest of Phuket, in the Bay of Bengal and measure 700 kilometres from North to South. They consist of 572 islands, of which only 36 are inhabited. The population of the Islands is about 450 000.
The island has rather a low crime rate. There is no real organised crime on the islands. As in almost all countries, pickpocketing can occur, especially in crowded areas such as bus and rail stations, tourist spots, and busy gatherings (festivals and bars) which is why it is advisable to watch your valuables and not to carry a lot of cash with you. Instead, you can secure it in safety deposit lockers available in many hotels. It is advisable to make a list of the items you are storing and then count the money well before handing it over and ensure that a person from the management cross checks your list, before you hand the items over to avoid misunderstandings at a later stage.
There are some rules travellers should follow:
- do not enter into restricted or tribal areas; taking videos, films or photographs of any indigenous tribes on these islands is a crime and is punishable by law
- do not remove or take any corals, sea stars or seashells without permits from the Fisheries department
- do not collect dead coral or touch/break live coral
- do not collect, remove or take any shells from the sea or from the beach as it deprives a crab of a possible home
- do not stand on the coral reef or cause damage to the reefs while snorkelling or scuba diving; instead, stay streamlined and watch where you put your hand and feet
- follow the traffic rules and keep left; carry legal documents, such as your driving license, permit, passport, etc.
- do not swim in unsafe waters during monsoon or after consuming liquor
- do not stay on the beaches or the forest areas at night
- nudity on beaches and in public places is not appropriate
The coasts of the Andaman Islands offer safe harbours and tidal creeks, which are often surrounded by mangrove swamps. The chief harbours include:
- starting northwards from Port Blair – the great harbour of South Andaman
- on the east coast – Port Meadows, Colebrooke Passage, Elphinstone Harbour (Homfray's Strait), Stewart Sound and Port Cornwallis
- on the west coast – Temple Sound, Interview Passage, Port Anson or Kwangtung Harbour (large), Port Campbell (large), Port Mouat and Macpherson Strait.
There are also many other safe anchorages:
- in the South Andaman – Shoal Bay and Kotara Anchorage
- in the North Andaman – Cadell Bay and the Turtle Islands
- in the archipelago – Outram Harbour and Kwangtung Strait.
The Nicobar Islands
The Nicobar Islands are an archipelagic island chain in the eastern Indian Ocean, in Southeast Asia, 150 km north of Aceh on Sumatra, 1,300 km southeast of the Indian subcontinent, across the Bay of Bengal. They are separated from Thailand to the east by the Andaman Sea and form part of the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. The Nicobar Islands’ area is 1,840 square kilometres. The Nicobar Islands are separated from the Andaman Islands by the Ten Degree Channel.
The climate of the Nicobar Islands is warm and tropical. Temperatures are from 22 °C to 30°C. Annual monsoons contribute to heavy rainfall – about 3000 to 3800 mm annually. Heavy rains occur from May through November. More moderate rain is observed from December through mid-January. Small amounts of rain are from January through April.
Thunderstorm frequency varies from island to island. The greatest activity occurs during the months immediately preceding and the first few weeks immediately following the beginning of the Southwest Monsoon.
The cloudiest months are between June and September, when the cloud coverage is from 70 to 80 percent. The months with least cloud coverage are February and March – 30 to 40 percent in the north and 50 to 60 percent in the south.
The visibility is good except during heavy rains.
There are coastal mangrove forests as well as tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests. The Nicobar Islands are a distinct terrestrial ecoregion, with many endemic species.
The currents near Car Nicobar Island flow rapidly enough to cause tide races, particularly north of the island.
The tidal currents in the vicinity of Chowra Island set NE during the rising tide and SW during the falling tide.
The tidal currents in St. Georges Channel are strong and set NE through the channel on the rising tide, and SW through the channel on the falling tide
Arrival and Departure Procedures:
Yachts are not allowed to stop anywhere else prior to completing formalities at Port Blair (South Andaman). It is reported that using an agent here for clearance is straightforward and simple. Cost is about US$200.
Call the port authorities on VHF channel 16, a few hours before your arrival and inform them about your ETA. Then, call again when you arrive to receive instructions on where to anchor and so that they can inform Customs and Immigration. It is best to arrive during the day.
The Coastguard will visit the yacht with their own boat. Customs and Immigration officials must be collected in your dinghy. A complete list of stores and equipment (with serial numbers) will be required. You also have to list your depth sounder as a 'fish finder'.
A visit must be paid ashore to the Harbour Master at the Port Management Board (PMB) to lodge a written itinerary of all the places you are going to visit. The HM should provide you with data regarding the radio times and frequencies (via SSB radio) for your required daily radio check-ins. If you only have a VHF radio, your visit will be very restricted.
It is essential that you have up to 8 copies of all your documents (including Departure documents from your previous port) and the required letters. An embossed boat stamp will
also be necessary.
The leaving procedure has been simplified. First visit Port Captain's office to pay your dues, then Immigration. When you are ready to leave, call Port Control with your clearance number.
Inform Port Control in advance of your expected time of departure.
Standard operation procedure for foreign yachts visiting the Andaman Islands:
Obtain clearance/permit from the Indian High Commission/Embassy before departing from last port of call and submit the following particulars to the Indian High Commission/embassy:
- purpose of visit
- port of registration
- last port of call
- next port of call
- name of local agent (if any)
- particulars of the owner and crew
- itinerary of the vessel.
Clearance need to be obtained from Port Management Board, Port Blair, 48 hours
before entering Indian Territorial waters
Immigration clearance will be given at Port Blair on arrival/departure. On arrival,
yachts will be inspected by Navy, Customs and Immigration for clearance.
For more information read the full report here