Singapore is experiencing the onset of the Northeast Monsoon season which is expected to last till March 2022. This will bring about moderate to heavy thundery showers, with strong winds and choppy seas that can increase risks at sea. Hence, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has stepped up its safety checks and measures during this period that also coincides with the year-end festive season and progressive reopening of borders.
Additional safety measures by MPA
MPA’s port inspectors and marine surveyors have been carrying out more spot checks on local ferries, harbor and pleasure craft. In addition to inspections on the general condition of the vessels, checks will also focus on the safe embarkation and disembarkation of passengers, the condition of firefighting and life-saving equipment on board, as well as operators’ familiarity with emergency procedures and compliance with MPA regulations pertaining to their licenses.
The checks are carried out in consideration of the increase in the utilization of local ferries and pleasure craft for leisure activities and tours in the Southern Islands. Results of the inspections and spot checks are shared with industry at regular dialogue sessions to ensure that harbor and pleasure craft are operated safely.
MPA officers continue to conduct safety briefings to masters and crew of ferries, harbor craft, and pleasure craft to remind them to observe safe best practices and the importance of navigational safety.
In addition, in view of the COVID-19 situation and emergence of a potentially more contagious variant of the COVID-19 virus, strict Safe Management Measures (SMMs) must be observed by both crew and passengers at all times. To this end, MPA’s COVID-19 Audit Team have also stepped-up audits of key waterfront facilities to ensure operators and users comply with the SMMs.
MPA’s Port Master Captain Chong Jia Chyuan said, “Safety is a shared responsibility. MPA urges the industry and port users to be alert while navigating and to play their part in preventing incidents at sea.
“We also urge members of the public who are out at sea to be vigilant at all times and to familiarize themselves with life-saving equipment, passenger safety instructions and prevailing weather conditions. Persons engaging in recreational water activities should also be extra vigilant during this monsoon period. MPA will continue to work with the maritime community to instill a strong safety culture and enhance navigational safety in our port waters.”
Industry players work with MPA to enhance safety at sea initiatives
The National Maritime Safety at Sea Council (NMSSC), which serves as an advisory body to MPA on maritime safety matters, has been working closely with various MPA-industry safety work groups on initiatives to enhance safety at sea. A new safety work group was started this year to promote safety among pleasure craft boaters.
The MPA-Pleasure Craft Safety Work Group is co-chaired by Captain Charles De Souza, Deputy Port Master of MPA, and YP Loke, President of the Singapore Boating Industry Association and NMSSC member. The work group, with representation from major marinas and boating associations, has been exploring ways to establish a systemic approach to inculcate safety culture, to review safety procedures and to improve navigational safety in port for the pleasure boating community.
Chairman of NMSSC Ishak Ismail said, “As one of the busiest shipping ports in the world, maritime safety is of utmost importance to the Port of Singapore. NMSSC is pleased to work with MPA and members of the industry through the safety work groups on collaborative solutions to enhance safety at sea.
“An example of such solutions is the distribution of decals for pleasure boaters as a convenient visual aid on their craft for important contact information when they need help out at sea.”