Singapore Reinforcing Safety of Navigation Following Recent Vessel Collisions

Ships at anchor near the Port of Singapore. Picture taken July 17, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su
Ships at anchor near the Port of Singapore. Picture taken July 17, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore says it is conducting investigations into three separate collisions involving commercial vessels in and around Singapore and taking proactive measures to reduce such incidents in the future.

In a statement Tuesday, the MPA said it will looking into the latest spate of incidents to see if there were any systemic issues and also working with the shipping community to reinforce the safety of navigation in the busy waters of the Singapore Strait.

To do this, the MPA said it will be holding briefings, conducted in partnership with the Singapore Shipping Association, targeted at shipowners, ship managers, ship charterers and shipping agents, who have direct channels to convey safety messages to the ship masters and officers. The first briefing is to be held this week.

The announcement comes following a collision Monday between a containership and chemical tanker in the Singapore Strait, as well as two separate collisions between commercial vessels in the waters off Singapore on January 29 and 30, each of which resulted in bunker oil spilling into Singapore’s waters. In each incident, the Port Operations Control Centre attempted to at least one of the vessels involved to notify them of their collision course prior to colliding.

“MPA is gravely concerned about the recent incidents in Singapore’s waters,” said Andrew Tan, MPA’s Chief Executive. “We are working with the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) to take immediate steps to raise the level of awareness of navigational safety in the shipping community. MPA is committed to ensuring the safety of navigation in our waters and will work closely with our partners in the shipping community to reinforce this. MPA is also enhancing its navigational alerts to provide ship masters and pilots to help improve their situational awareness, pending the outcome of the investigations into these incidents”.

In addition to briefings, the MPA said it will also communicate Port Marine and Shipping Circulars to the shipping and harbor craft communities, emphasizing the importance of navigational safety and to maintain vigilance while navigating.

The Port Operations Control Centre (POCC) will also initiate broadcasts on the importance of safe navigation and vigilance in the Singapore Strait and within Singapore’s port waters, in addition to the traffic information already provided to the ships’ crew.

Speaking on the matter, Patrick Phoon, President of SSA said, “The SSA is working closely with MPA on reinforcing the importance of safety of navigation in Singapore waters. I have full confidence that my members will heed this urgent call to do their utmost to emphasis to their ships’ masters and crew members to exercise vigilance at all times. We all have an important role to play in protecting our marine environment and to ensure safety at sea,” he added.

The MPA’s announcement concluded by saying that even with advance warnings and raised awareness, at the end of the day the ship’s master remains responsible for the safe navigation of his ship.