New safety videos and craft regulations among safety-at-sea efforts: Khaw Boon Wan

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan (third from left) at the inaugural Safety@ Sea conference on Tuesday (August 30), where maritime industry experts shared best safety at sea practices with participants.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan (third from left) at the inaugural Safety@ Sea conference on Tuesday (August 30), where maritime industry experts shared best safety at sea practices with participants. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

SINGAPORE - Singapore is stepping up efforts to enhance safety at sea, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan at the inaugural Safety@ Sea conference on Tuesday (Aug 30).

These include initiatives such as safety videos for mariners in the Singapore Strait and ferry passengers, and new regulations for power-driven craft.

The two-day conference at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel will see more than 350 people attend.

Mr Khaw noted that earlier safety campaigns have borne results, with the incident rate falling 75 per cent from 2014 to just one incident last year.

"But we are not where we want to be yet," he said. "We have to continue to spare no effort to improve safety at sea."

Mr Khaw's announcements come in the wake of recent marine incidents.

Earlier this month, a tanker collided with a container vessel in Singapore waters, both suffering damage.

Mr Khaw said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) had developed a safety video together with the Indonesian and Malaysian maritime authorities to help mariners navigate the Singapore Strait and the Port of Singapore.

To reduce incident risk for smaller vessels, he added, Singapore has made it mandatory for all power-driven harbour and pleasure craft in its waters to be fitted with Automatic Identification System-B transponders and electronic chart systems compliant with International Maritime Organisation standards.

With this, ocean-going vessels will be able to track even small craft on their electronic charts and vice versa.

MPA is funding the cost of these upgrades for crafts registered before July 1 this year. The exercise will be completed by next Jan 1.

Mr Khaw said that MPA has also worked to improve the servicing and maintenance of safety equipment on board passenger ferries, as well as increasing the frequency of inspections for regional passenger ferries.

This follows an accident last year in which the Indonesia-registered ferry Sea Prince hit a floating object after leaving Batam. A total of 97 people, including 51 Singaporeans, had to be rescued.

MPA is now producing a safety video to be shown to passengers at ferry terminals while they wait to board their ferries.

Mr Khaw also announced that MPA would be setting up a community of practice, a platform for international maritime administrations and other non-governmental organisations to share knowledge and best practices.

It will commence next year and convene biennially.

MPA chief executive Andrew Tan said: "Recent marine incidents around the world leading to loss of lives, loss of vessels and environmental damage underscore the importance of maritime safety.

"By building a community of good practice, we hope to disseminate best practices and foster closer cooperation between maritime authorities to prevent and respond to these incidents when they occur by adopting an integrated and multi-stakeholder approach."