SINGAPORE: The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has stepped up its safety checks and measures during the year-end festive season as part of an industry safety at sea campaign.
"With the onset of the northeast monsoon season, which may prevail up to March 2019, occurrences of moderate to heavy thunderstorms, strong winds and choppy seas can increase the risks at sea," said the authority in a press release on Friday (Dec 21).
It therefore urged all port users and those traveling by ferry or cruise to "exercise care" when on board and to remain "vigilant and safe" at sea.
In addition, the authority has implemented enhanced safety measures focusing on seafarers and sea-going passengers.
Increased spot checks are being made on regional ferries which include checks on their general condition and making sure that firefighting equipment and lifesaving 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 when navigating the busy waterways of the port of Singapore and the Singapore Strait.
COMPANIES, PASSENGERS CAN ALL PLAY A ROLE
The authority also called for industry players including shipping companies and ferry and cruise terminal operators, as well as individual seafarers and passengers to play their part in preventing incidents at sea.
Efforts by the maritime industry include a move by Majestic Fast Ferry to deploy additional watchkeepers where necessary during the year-end festive season, said MPA.
They will help the bridge team to monitor vessels' movements and to proceed at a safe speed during night journeys.
These additional staff members will also remind crew to ensure that the gangway is securely deployed before the ferry berths and will assist passengers when they embark and disembark.
The authority also reminded such crew that as part of their usual procedures, luggage should be properly stored and locked and emergency escape routes should not be blocked.
Meanwhile, marine services provider PSA Marine has added a mid-shift for their pilots to cater for more rest time, said MPA.
Pilots will also receive safety messages at the start of their shift via a mobile app.
In addition, their supervisors have increased their presence on the ground to encourage safety awareness.
MPA also stressed the importance of seafarers' well-being.
"The well-being of seafarers is also critical for ensuring safety at sea," said the authority. "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."
Said Mr Gavin Lim of the Sailor's Society, Singapore (a body that supports seafarers): "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.”