With the onset of the Northeast Monsoon season, which may prevail up to March 2019, occurrences of moderate to heavy thunder storms, strong winds and choppy seas can increase the risks at sea.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has stepped up its safety checks and measures under the ambit of the Safety@Sea Singapore Campaign.
MPA urges all port users and members of public who are travelling by ferry or cruise to exercise care when on board, and to remain vigilant and safe at sea.
Passengers should also be mindful of the basic safety practices, especially during the festive peak season.
Enhanced safety measures by MPA
MPA’s measures will focus on seafarers and sea-going passengers to guard against complacency, ensure safety standards, and maintain a safety-first culture.
MPA has increased the frequency of spot checks on regional ferries. This includes checks on the general vessel condition, and that fire-fighting apparatus and life-saving appliances on board are in good working condition.
MPA’s Vessel Traffic Information System has also increased the frequency of weather updates and navigational safety messages for vessels to remain alert and observe safety best practices when navigating in the busy waterways of Singapore port and the Singapore Strait.
Efforts by maritime industry
Shipping companies, vessel masters, ferry and cruise terminal operators, as well as individual seafarers and passengers can play a significant role in preventing incidents at sea.
“Never take safety at sea for granted. Be ever watchful and vigilant so that we do not unwittingly put ourselves and our colleagues in hazardous situations,” said Prof (Adj) RADM (Ret) Richard Lim, chairman of the National Maritime Safety At Sea Council.
For example, Majestic Fast Ferry will deploy additional watch-keepers where necessary during the festive period, to assist the bridge team in closely monitoring vessels’ movements and proceeding with a safe speed during night voyages.
They will also remind crew to ensure that the gangway is securely deployed before its ferry berths, and to assist passengers when they embark and disembark.
As part of their usual procedures, the crew should also properly store and secure luggage before departure, and ensure that the emergency escape routes are not blocked.
PSA Marine has added a mid-shift for their pilots to cater for more rest time.
Pilots also receive safety messages at the start of their shift via a mobile application.
In addition, their supervisors have increased their presence on the ground to encourage safety awareness.
As Safety@Sea Ambassadors, the pilots will also circulate Safety@Sea collaterals as part of the pilotage service.
The well-being of seafarers is also critical for ensuring safety at sea.
The Thome Group, for example, encourages crew to take shore leave to allow them to re-energise.
While on shore, they can join in festive events at seafarers’ clubs, charities or other seafaring organisations.
Gavin Lim of Sailor’s Society (Singapore) said, “The well-being of seafarers is key to safety.
“High morale will increase alertness and wellness.
“We encourage ship owners to consider providing extra funding for festive special meals or additional wi-fi access on board for the seafarers to connect with their families.”