Marine chases dangerous, police say

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 August, 2011, 12:00am


Anti-smuggling operations may not be the most glamorous sort of police work but are among the most dangerous.

Officers said driving a speedboat could be much more dangerous than driving a car at high speed.

'Imagine you are driving at 110km/h on the road with your eyes covered, but the road is not divided into lanes, and your opponent is making a fierce effort to escape. That's how dangerous it is for us,' acting superintendent Law Ka-hong of the small boat division said.

Law said the sea could be very rough. At speeds of about 60 knots (111km/h), the waves would repeatedly throw his boat into the air for three to four seconds at a time.

Superintendent Fred Tsui Wai-hung of the marine police operations bureau said if anybody fell into the sea at such a high speed, he or she could be injured as badly as when falling to the ground from a car: 'You could probably be hit by other boats or break your neck, arms or legs.'

But Tsui stressed that marine police would take care of smugglers during a chase.

Officers said smugglers' speedboats and other equipment had advanced greatly in recent years.

Police spent HK$445 million on a maritime patrolling response system in 2005 to help track smugglers. It consists of many surveillance monitors and heat detectors installed in strategic locations to detect boats as far as 20km away. Some 40 high-speed patrol boats and two barges can respond promptly if any suspicious boats are detected.

The small boat unit also plans to spend HK$20 million to HK$30 million to replace its five high-speed inceptors - the force's fastest vessels, with a top speed of 60 knots - with even faster boats.