350 personnel spring into action for emergency sea exercise held by MPA

SINGAPORE - More than 350 personnel sprang into action on Friday morning, when an outbound regional ferry "collided" into an inbound tanker at Ferry Buoy.

They quickly responded to the emergency, which was a multi-agency exercise organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).

The responders were from 10 agencies and companies, including the Singapore Police Force, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, Singapore Armed Forces as well as private entities like the Singapore Cruise Centre and Bintan Resort Ferries, MPA said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

As a result of the "collision", the ferry's hull was damaged and it started to take in water. Some passengers were injured while others panicked and jumped into the sea. The ferry was carrying 100 passengers from Singapore to Bintan, Indonesia, while the tanker was carrying 13 crew members.

The "incident" was reported to MPA's Marine Safety Control Centre, which in turn activated the multi-agency Ferry Mishap Contingency Plan. A total of 15 craft were dispatched to conduct search and rescue operations and aid in the evacuation of injured passengers.

The full deployment exercise also included the deployment of resources at sea at the Eastern Special Purposes A Anchorage for rescue operations, the manning of emergency operations centre at the Port Operations Control Centre at PSA Vista, as well as the landing of casualties and rescued persons at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.

The annual ferry exercise, codenamed Ferex2015, aims to test the readiness of various agencies to respond to ferry mishaps in the Port of Singapore. It was organised in conjunction with Safety@Sea week 2015.

MPA's assistant chief executive of operations, Captain M Segar, said: "Safety must never be taken for granted and it is our role, as the national maritime agency to ensure that we are operationally ready for exigencies at sea.

"MPA conducts regular emergency exercises with various agencies and leveraging on these exercises, we can develop greater synergies between our partner agencies through the sharing of best practices."

audreyt@sph.com.sg