Ships registered in Singapore that have found ways to cut carbon emissions will from next month be designated "green", qualifying them for tax rebates and other benefits to be introduced next year.
It is hoped the incentives will push more vessels towards prioritising sustainability.
The Singapore Registry of Ships (SRS) is one of the five largest fleets in the world, with more than 4,000 vessels under its purview.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said yesterday that future "green" registrants will also have their initial registration fees reduced. All "green" ships will be issued a certificate of recognition and have their details published on its website at no extra cost, which should boost their commercial attractiveness, it said.
No other registry in the world uses this accreditation system.
At an event marking the SRS' 55th anniversary yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat said MPA is engaging major charterers to promote the system so qualifying ships are considered more favourably. He said: "We aspire for the (accreditation) to be universally recognised as an assurance of a vessel's quality and future-readiness."
There are three other categories for the new system: a "smart" label for vessels that make good use of digital technologies; a "cyber" label for those that have adopted advanced cyber-security measures to protect their key operations; and a "welfare" label for those with good infrastructure and amenities for the crew's well-being. MPA will consider incentives for awardees of these categories, including financial benefits that have been rolled out for "green" vessels.
Mr Chee, who spoke at the SRS Forum held at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, noted how far the registry has come since it started in 1966. He pledged to expand the industry, growing the pie for Singaporeans by drawing more companies to come and getting existing ones to make new investments. "As economies open up further and global trade recovers, maritime Singapore, which comprises our global hub port and international maritime centre, is poised for further expansion," he said.
Singapore-registered ships are internationally recognised for their quality and safety, with tighter rules than registries elsewhere, like those in Panama, Liberia and the Marshall Islands.
Thus these vessels have no restrictions placed on where they can trade and have significant business advantages and savings. For instance, they are subject to fewer inspections at foreign ports.
Singapore-registered ships now have an aggregate gross tonnage of more than 93 million. The fleet is also one of the youngest, with an average vessel age of 10.9 years.
"The SRS continues to provide good support for Singapore-flagged ships," Mr Chee said. "Owners and operators of Singapore-registered ships can be assured that the SRS will do its best to support (them) in times of need."