S'pore not letting up on boosting maritime safety

Passengers (above) disembarking from an SCDF Heavy Rescue Vessel at the HarbourFront Ferry Terminal during an exercise held yesterday that simulated the evacuation of 150 passengers on board a regional ferry involved in a collision in the waters sout
Passengers disembarking from an SCDF Heavy Rescue Vessel at the HarbourFront Ferry Terminal during an exercise held yesterday that simulated the evacuation of 150 passengers on board a regional ferry involved in a collision in the waters south of Singapore. A Republic of Singapore Air Force Super Puma helicopter (above) was also involved in the rescue. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
Passengers (above) disembarking from an SCDF Heavy Rescue Vessel at the HarbourFront Ferry Terminal during an exercise held yesterday that simulated the evacuation of 150 passengers on board a regional ferry involved in a collision in the waters sout
Passengers (above) disembarking from an SCDF Heavy Rescue Vessel at the HarbourFront Ferry Terminal during an exercise held yesterday that simulated the evacuation of 150 passengers on board a regional ferry involved in a collision in the waters south of Singapore. A Republic of Singapore Air Force Super Puma helicopter was also involved in the rescue. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

3 deals to carry out research on issue inked even as number of major incidents declines

Despite the drop in major incidents taking place in Singapore waters in the last decade, the authorities are taking steps to increase safety.

The Centre of Excellence in Maritime Safety signed three separate agreements on Thursday to carry out research on maritime safety issues. These are with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), the Transport Safety Investigation Bureau and Group Nautical.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is also looking at the use of digitalisation to improve maritime safety, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min.

It has been working, for instance, with IHPC, Fujitsu and the Singapore Management University on the use of artificial intelligence and big data analytics to predict potential incidents.

Dr Lam, who was speaking at the International Safety @ Sea Conference on Thursday, noted that the number of such incidents declined from 0.8 case per every 100,000 vessel movements to below 0.12 case between 2009 and last year.

Singapore, however, must press on with efforts to enhance safety in its waters, he added. "The consequences of maritime accidents are far-reaching: the loss of lives, economic losses and long-term damage to our marine environment."

Yesterday, the MPA, as part of International Safety @ Sea Week, held a ferry emergency exercise, which simulated the evacuation of 150 passengers on board a regional ferry involved in a collision in the waters south of Singapore.

The exercise aimed to test the readiness of about 250 personnel, from 10 government agencies, three ferry operators and the Singapore Cruise Centre, in responding to such incidents, said the MPA .

The agencies involved included the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), Republic of Singapore Air Force and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

Besides using SCDF's Heavy Rescue Vessel and the air force's Super Puma helicopter to rescue passengers, new technology was also deployed. It includes drones mounted with cameras to provide live footage of the incident for the authorities, and remotely piloted water rescue lifebuoys that can be steered directly towards passengers in the water.

Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan watched the exercise.

MPA operations and marine services director Daknashamoorthy Ganasen said such exercises are important for testing the coordination and operational readiness of the various agencies. "Through this exercise, MPA hopes it enhances contingency preparedness of the participating agencies and, more importantly, will raise situational awareness of ferry passengers," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2019, with the headline 'S'pore not letting up on boosting maritime safety'. Print Edition | Subscribe