More than 100 'rescued' in MPA ferry emergency readiness exercise

A life raft is deployed to transfer passengers in an emergency exercise conducted by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore on Aug 25, 2017.
A life raft is deployed to transfer passengers in an emergency exercise conducted by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore on Aug 25, 2017.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - About 100 people were "rescued" in a ferry emergency exercise on Friday (Aug 25) conducted by Singapore's port authority to demonstrate readiness in responding to such mishaps.

The half-day emergency exercise conducted by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) involved an unspecified "incident" between a regional ferry and a passenger vessel.

The scenario required the evacuation of about 100 passengers, half of which were designated as "casualties" that needed medical attention.

More than 300 personnel from 18 agencies and companies took part, including representatives from the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), Ministry of Health and Majestic Fast Ferry.

The annual exercise was observed by more than 50 people, including Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min. Others included maritime safety agencies from 12 countries, ferry operators, and representatives from the International Ferry Safety Association.

There were two segments to the exercise: a search-and-rescue sea operation at the Eastern Anchorage, and attending to the rescued in temporary tents at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.

The sea segment included a demonstration on transfer of passengers onto a life-raft and a nearby rescue craft and ferry. A total of 15 vessels were mobilised in the exercise, like an RSN fast craft unit used to transport "survivors" to land.

There was also a tethered drone providing live feed of the rescue operations.

New technology used include the Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard, or Emily, to rescue a dummy thrown overboard, the first time the device was used in an exercise. It is a remote-controlled life buoy that can support up to six people at one time.

A new communication application which allows secured communication between the on-scene commander and the incident manager was also tested.

MPA chief executive Andrew Tan said: "Safety remains our key priority. Annually we conduct ferry evacuation exercises to ensure that our ferry operators and the various agencies know what to do in an emergency.

"It is also a reminder to all our stakeholders that safety is everyone's responsibility and we have to remain vigilant at all times. MPA will continue to work with the maritime community to raise the overall standards of safety in our port."