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Opening Remarks by Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min at the Opening Ceremony of The International Safety@Sea Conference 2019

29 Aug 2019 Speeches

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

1.     A very good morning to everyone.


2.     We continue to take safety at sea seriously. Safety at sea concerns not only those in the maritime industry, but also the general public. The consequences of maritime accidents are far-reaching: the loss of lives, economic losses and long-term damage to our marine environment. 

3.     As Singapore is one of the busiest ports in the world, maritime safety is naturally of utmost importance to us. I am glad to share that over the past ten years, the number of major incidents per 100,000 vessel movements has dropped from about 0.8 to about 0.1 last year. This is a testament to the good work that we have done for maritime safety. Congratulations to all of you. We should press on with efforts to enhance safety in our waters.

4.     Collaboration is key in this regard. I hope that through platforms such as this conference, stakeholders can come together to have robust discussions and share best practices on keeping our waters safe. I would like to kick-start these discussions by briefly sharing three measures that MPA has initiated.

MPA’s Safety Efforts in the Safety@Sea Singapore Campaign

5.     First, working with the industry to inculcate a safety-first culture at sea.

6.     MPA established, in partnership with the industry, the National Maritime Safety at Sea Council (NMSSC) in 2015. NMSSC is now one of the key partners driving the Safety@Sea Singapore Campaign. Last year, the NMSSC played an instrumental role in the revamp of our safety collaterals. Beyond providing safety reminders, the new posters feature messages tailored specifically for groups such as bridge teams and crew. 

7.     Over the past year, MPA has also paid particular attention to enhancing ferry safety. During the previous pilgrimage season, MPA trialled the use of real-time, location-based text messages to remind some 30,000 passengers travelling to Kusu Island to remain seated until the ferry had berthed. This is so that passengers are equipped with safety awareness and can play their part to prevent accidents on board ferries. 

8.     MPA has also introduced new lifejackets and lifejacket receptacles on ferries. Announced last year, MPA co-funded $800,000 towards the replacement of lifejackets on board MPA-licensed regional ferries. The new lifejackets have convenient securing buckles to enable the lifejackets to be more easily worn. In addition, customised receptacles are being installed on board ferries to allow passengers to access lifejackets more easily in the event of an emergency. More than 8,000 lifejackets and receptacles will be installed on some 45 ferries by the end of this year. 

Stepping Up Efforts to Enhance Safety at Sea via Digital Means

9.     Second, exploiting digital platforms and technology to enhance maritime safety.

10.    Today, MPA has several projects that leverage digitalisation to enhance safety. For example, MPA has been working with Fujitsu, Singapore Management University and A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing to enhance vessel traffic management. This project uses artificial intelligence tools and big data analytics to predict and give early warnings of potential incidents during vessel traffic management. The project has shown promising results. Vessel traffic service (VTS) operators could have up to an extra five minutes of lead time to alert the shipmaster of the risk of collision. 

11.    MPA is also championing e-Navigation, which will enable personnel on a ship to access critical safety-related information, such as marine traffic conditions and danger zones, more easily via a single platform. This will improve the safety of navigation in shipping operations. 

12.    Beyond e-Navigation, through the strategy of a “Digital OCEANS” plan, MPA aims to foster inter-operability between different digital platforms that will allow for Open or Common Exchange And Network Standardisation at a global level. This includes maritime single windows, maritime digital services and supply chain platforms within the global eco-system, which would allow G2B or B2B systems to exchange data and connect seamlessly. This will improve efficiency, lower transaction costs and more importantly, enhance safety at sea.

Research and Innovation on Safety at Sea

13.    Third, continued research and innovation to achieve breakthroughs in safety at sea.

14.    At the opening of last year’s International Safety@Sea Conference, I announced the launch of the Centre of Excellence in Maritime Safety, or C-E-M-S in short. This is a joint project between the Singapore Maritime Institute and Singapore Polytechnic. CEMS serves as a platform for research on the safety of maritime navigation and ship-board operations. With CEMS in the final stages of equipping its facilities, it will soon be ready to embark on full-time research work. It is therefore timely that I announce three memoranda of understanding (MOUs) that will be signed later this morning.

15.    The first MOU will be between A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing and CEMS. Both parties will commit to collaborate in their efforts to conduct research into assessing the role of human factors in navigational safety.

16.    The second MOU will be between the Transport Safety Investigation Bureau and CEMS. Both parties will jointly promote and enhance maritime safety investigations via the development of immersive training programmes to build capabilities.

17.    The third MOU, between Group Nautical Pte Limited and CEMS, will see both parties partnering to design and develop maritime training courses using virtual reality technologies.

18.    These three MOUs will kick-start the momentum for research work at CEMS. I look forward to many more partnerships in the years to come.


19.    In conclusion, safety at sea is a shared responsibility. I hope that this conference will provide all of you with the platform to further conversations and strengthen these partnerships in this very important area of work.

20.    On this note, I wish all of you a fruitful conference. Thank you.