Singapore sets high standards for maritime safety


Singapore DocksSearch and rescue exponents from across Asia heard about Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) safety success at an event supported by the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF).

Andrew Tan, Chief Executive of the Port Authority, told delegates that their incident rate for last year was one of the lowest ever, with 0.005 incidents per 1,000 vessel traffic movements, compared to 0.008 in 2013.

For the first six months this year, the Authority also saw a low incident rate of 0.003 incidents per 1,000 vessel traffic movements. Mr Tan said that safety was a priority for Singapore and that, as one of the world’s busiest ports located along strategic waterways they had a responsibility to take navigational safety seriously.

Last year, MPA launched the Safety@Sea campaign, a collaborative effort with the private sector and maritime industry to inculcate a safety-first culture and to raise the awareness of safety at sea.

As part of the on-going campaign, they also organised the Safety@Sea Week to share and promote safety practices for the maritime community.

Mr Tan said: “The Safety@Sea campaign can only be achieved through strong partnerships between the Government, the industry and the private sector. Together with the industry groups, the Singapore Shipping Association, PSA Marine, Association of Regional Ferry Operators and the pleasure craft community, we have implemented a number of practical measures to improve safety at sea.”

He added that earlier this year, the MPA had implemented a safety reporting and suggestion framework to encourage all ships plying Singapore port waters and the Singapore Strait to report good practices and near-miss cases.

To further enhance the safety and security of Singapore’s port waters, MPA will be funding the installation of new Automatic Identification System-B (AIS–B) transponders and Electronic Chart Systems (ECS) on all small harbour and pleasure craft plying their waters.

“We also have in place multi-agency incident response plans to different marine incidents like oil spills, chemical spills and passenger vessel incidents, and we conduct annual exercises to test and ensure readiness of all the agencies, assets and personnel involved,” explained Mr Tan

“There are many lessons to be learned from the practices put into place by the MPA in Singapore,” said Bruce Reid, IMRF, CEO.

“Particularly in the areas of co-operation and partnership, planning and systems, and innovation. The MPA has a holistic approach to Maritime safety which others might want to adopt.”

The IMRF’s Asia Pacific Regional Maritime Mass Rescue Operations workshop was attended by 60 delegates from 30 organisations from countries including the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, Malaysia, Mongolia, China and Japan.

The event also included a Regional Mass Rescue Operations Workshop, put together by experts from the IMRF, and participants were also able to observe a simulated ferry rescue operation exercise.

Singapore’s MPA is currently working with the Association of Regional Ferry Operators to develop innovative under-seat life jacket receptacle onboard ferries that will reduce the time will reduce the time taken for passengers to retrieve life jackets in times of emergency.

In order to promote safety of navigation to its global stakeholders, MPA is also partnering with BIMCO, one of the world’s largest international shipping associations, to produce a practical safety video for mariners – especially those who are navigating the Singapore Strait and to the Port of Singapore for the first time. This safety video will be distributed to shipping companies for free.

Another important initiative is the establishment of Singapore’s National Maritime Safety at Sea Council, to spearhead the drive for safety at sea on a national level and to ensure the sustainability of safety efforts. The Council is chaired by Professor Richard Lim and 13 other professionals from across the industry with extensive maritime-related experience.