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Oil spill incidents caused by human error and poor judgment: MPA

Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore announces disciplinary action and new safety measures after a probe into three oil spill incidents. 

SINGAPORE: The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) announced on Thursday (May 29) that human error and poor judgement were the main causes of three collisions which resulted in oil spills in the Republic's port waters and the Singapore Strait early this year.

In addition, MPA says there was lack of situational awareness on the part of the bridge teams of the vessels, including the pilots. This is despite MPA's Port Operations Control Centre giving them advisories and warnings of the traffic situation.

MPA found that the bridge teams did not make use of things like the Automatic Identification System (AIS) or Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) to avoid the collisions. Disciplinary action will be taken against members of the bridge teams.

In the wake of these incidents, a Safety Review Committee was formed to review the overall system of navigational safety in the waters. The panel included experts from the MPA, the Ministry of Transport, local academics, and representatives from the shipping industry.

The committee found no significant increase in the number of incidents in Singapore's waters between 2007 and 2013. Over the last few years, the number of incidents averaged between 0.012 and 0.016 per 1,000 vessel movements in port waters and the Singapore Strait respectively.

Still, to further enhance navigational safety, the committee recommended that a stronger culture of safety awareness be instilled. It also called for enhancement of communication and information sharing between pilots and ship masters, and for more active advisories to be provided to vessels navigating high-risk areas.

MPA will form two working groups to implement the measures, and will soon launch a safety campaign with the shipping community. 

Said MPA Chief Executive, Mr Andrew Tan: “MPA places a strong emphasis on the safety of navigation and takes a serious view of any incidents in Singapore waters. Moving forward, we will work more closely with all our industry partners to review our safety management procedures and implement additional measures to enhance navigational safety. We will also not hesitate to take appropriate actions against those who infringe our safety regulations.”

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