New $14m centre aims to improve maritime safety

(From left) Captain Gopala Krishnan, research lead for the Centre of Excellence in Maritime Safety; Dr Wolfgang Müller-Wittig, executive director of Fraunhofer Singapore; and Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health, Dr Lam Pin Min, viewing
(From left) Captain Gopala Krishnan, research lead for the Centre of Excellence in Maritime Safety; Dr Wolfgang Müller-Wittig, executive director of Fraunhofer Singapore; and Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health, Dr Lam Pin Min, viewing an exhibit at the third International Safety@Sea Conference yesterday.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

To be operational by Q4, it will also focus on navigation and operations on board vessels

A Centre of Excellence in Maritime Safety (CEMS) will open at Singapore Polytechnic (SP) later this year at a cost of $14 million.

Announced at the third International Safety@Sea Conference yesterday, it is being launched by the Singapore Maritime Institute and SP to collaborate with the industry and research community to develop technological solutions and training systems that will help reduce maritime incidents.

It will be operational by the fourth quarter and also focus on maritime navigation and operations on board vessels.

The guest of honour at the conference, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min, said CEMS' training programmes will make use of augmented and virtual reality, and focus on new modelling and simulation tools that enhance navigational safety, in tandem with the development of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships.

Mr Edwin Loh, SP's senior manager of technology operations, told The Straits Times that over the next five years, CEMS will aim to develop a Next Generation Navigation Simulator (NGNS), which will perform modelling and simulations of a complex port environment, as well as new vessel designs and operational concepts.

Mr Loh said: "As the upcoming Tuas mega port becomes operational, traffic volume is expected to increase over time. The NGNS can be used to simulate operational challenges and recommend optimal solutions for safe navigation."

He added that SP students embarking on internships or final-year projects can be involved in the centre as well.

Dr Lam also announced at the conference, held at the Marina Mandarin Hotel, that the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will invest $500,000 in developing a VHF Data Exchange System (VDES), a device capable of real-time, high-bandwidth ship-to-shore communications, over the next three years.

By combining data from the VDES with data analytics, the MPA will be able to predict traffic hot spots and areas with higher collision risk.

The MPA will also upgrade the Vessel Traffic Information System. Improvements will be made to the resolution of CCTV and video analytics capabilities.

Noting that there were more than 830,000 vessel movements in Singapore waters last year, Dr Lam added: "Despite the heavy traffic, the number of major incidents has dropped over the last 10 years, from about one incident per 100,000 vessel movements in 2008 to less than 0.3 last year.

"Such an improvement is only possible when each and every one of us takes personal responsibility to put safety first. But we cannot be complacent. We must continue to work at this."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2018, with the headline 'New $14m centre aims to improve maritime safety'. Print Edition | Subscribe