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Singapore 'gravely concerned' over spate of ship collisions

Singapore 'gravely concerned' over spate of ship collisions
The Singapore authorities say they are “gravely concerned” about three accidents in the country’s waters in less than 14 days that led to oil spills, and is starting a series of briefings with the local shipping community to promote navigational safety.

“MPA (Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore) is gravely concerned about the recent incidents in Singapore’s waters,” said Andrew Tan, chief executive of the MPA.

In response the MPA is rolling out a series of briefings with the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) targeted at shipowners, ship managers, ship charterers and shipping agents from this week.

“We are working with the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) to take immediate steps to raise the level of awareness of navigational safety in the shipping community, Tans said.

“MPA is committed to ensuring the safety of navigation in our waters and will work closely with our partners in the shipping community to reinforce this. MPA is also enhancing its navigational alerts to provide ship masters and pilots to help improve their situational awareness, pending the outcome of the investigations into these incidents.”

In the third collision in as many weeks, yesterday the Liberian-flagged containership Hammoia Thracium leaving the port and a Panama-flagged chemical tanker Zoey collided off Seborak Island, resulting in an 80-tonne bunker spill.

The incident occurred just as efforts to clean oil spills from two previous incidents were completed.

On 30 January the containership NYK Themis hit the barge AZ Fuzhou at East Keppel Fairway at about 4 km south of Marina South and the Hong Kong-flagged chemical tanker Lime Galaxy collided with the China-flagged containership Feihe at about 2.7 km south of Jurong Island on 29 January.

The MPA said it port operations control centre start broadcasts on “the importance of safe navigation and vigilance in Singapore waters”, but also noted the ship master remained responsible for the safe navigation of his ship.

SSA president Patrick Phoon said: “I have full confidence that my members will heed this urgent call to do their utmost to emphasise to their ships’ masters and crew members to exercise vigilance at all times. We all have an important role to play in protecting our marine environment and to ensure safety at sea.”

Singapore Port is one of the world's busiest and the largest container transhipment and bunkering hubs. The Singapore Strait connects to the Malacca Strait which saw its highest number of transits ever last year with 77,973 vessel transits in 2013.