Asia Defense

Singapore Launches New Maritime Safety Group

City-state reveals collaborative platform for maritime authorities to share best practices.

Singapore Launches New Maritime Safety Group
Credit: MPA Singapore Twitter Account

Singapore has launched a new international maritime safety initiative to help further reduce casualties in the city-state’s waters.

The so-called community of practice will be a collaborative platform for international maritime administrations and other non-governmental organizations to share knowledge and best practices, Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Ministry for Transport Khaw Boon Wan revealed at the inaugural International [email protected] Conference in Singapore which kicked off August 30.

The community of practice, which is already a work in progress, would be set up under the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). It will commence in August 2017 and be held biennially, complementing existing forums such as the Cooperative Mechanism and Tripartite Technical Experts Group and building on an integrated and multi-stakeholder approach.

“I encourage all of you to participate actively in the community,” Khaw added in his opening speech to the new forum.

The initiative is part of a range of measures that Singapore has taken to help ensure safety given its location along one of the busiest waterways in the world, with around 1,000 vessels at its port at any one time, Khaw said. Though its efforts to build a strong safety culture since 2014 have yielded results – with only one incident in 2015, an incident rate fall of 75 percent – he admitted that a collision earlier this month involving a tanker and container vessel in Singapore was “a stark reminder” of the work that needs to be done.

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Beyond the community of practice, Khaw also touched on a few other initiatives that Singapore was taking to boost maritime safety, including a safety video jointly developed with the maritime authorities of Indonesia and Malaysia to help familiarize those navigating Singapore’s waters and instituting a requirement for all power-driven craft to be fitted with transponders and electronic chart systems in compliance with International Maritime Organization (IMO) standards. MPA is funding the cost of equipment and installation on crafts registered before July 1, 2016, and the exercise is expected to be completed by January 2017.

In addition, learning from the Sea Prince incident – which saw an Indonesian-registered ferry hit a floating object after leaving a terminal in Batam, leading to the rescue of nearly 100 people, including 51 Singaporeans – Khaw said the MPA has been working to improve the servicing and maintenance of safety equipment on board passenger ferries, increased the frequency of inspections, and is producing a safety video to raise passengers’ awareness of safety procedures on board ferries.

The International [email protected] Conference also heard from the Secretary General of the IMO Kitack Lim, whose remarks focused on the importance of building a culture of safety in the global shipping community. Lim, who was formerly the president of Busan Port Authority, also met with Singapore officials during his four-day visit to the city-state.

More than 350 participants from the shipping industry were expected to attend the two-day conference in Singapore, which took place at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel.