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Cruise ship disaster-readiness tested in Exercise Blue Dolphin

A full-day emergency preparedness exercise was carried out by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Friday to sharpen authorities' readiness and reinforce a "culture of safety".

SINGAPORE: More than 1,000 people from 21 public service agencies participated in the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore's (MPA) emergency preparedness exercise on Friday (July 11).

Codenamed Exercise Blue Dolphin 2014, the full-day exercise simulated a fire breaking out on a passenger cruise ship heading into Singapore to test the readiness and responsiveness of port authorities and other agencies during a mass evacuation scenario.

Organisers spent a year planning the exercise. The Singapore Armed Forces, the Singapore Civil Defence Force and the Police Coast Guard were among the agencies taking part. 

In the end, 28 vessels were deployed within an hour of the simulated distress call going out, to deal with the "fire", and evacuate passengers.

MPA Chief Executive Andrew Tan said the key takeaway from the exercise was the message of safety - an aspect authorities would make no compromises on. "It's not a question of when, but how, we are ready to respond to any incidents out at sea. Through exercises like this, we can bring about a greater culture of safety," he said.

One of the role players said that more of such exercises should be carried out in the future, perhaps in less-than-ideal conditions.

"The weather was perfect today. And there's no rain, everything was fine. So if really a scenario, something like that should happen - if it's raining, in the dark of the night - are we able to respond the same?" asked Community Emergency Response Team member Ho Teen Choy, who played one of 300 "survivors".

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