Opening Remarks by Acting Minister for Transport Mr Chee Hong Tat at the MaritimeONE Scholarship Awards Ceremony

13 Sep 2023Speeches

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1.     Good evening.

2.     I would like to begin by congratulating the 67 MaritimeONE Scholarship and Tripartite Maritime Scholarship (TMSS) recipients this year, and to welcome everyone once again on this joyous occasion.

3.     This evening, I want to touch on the three “P”s of Maritime Singapore. Firstly, the wealth of Possibilities in our maritime sector as it grows and transforms to be ready for the future. Secondly, our passionate and talented People, including our scholars who we are welcoming into the maritime family this evening. Thirdly, our strong tripartite Partnership between the maritime industry, unions, and government.

Possibilities in the Maritime Sector

4.     Let me begin with the exciting Possibilities in Maritime Singapore. Singapore has established ourselves as a leading global hub port and vibrant international maritime centre, and we are recognised as an emerging leader in maritime technology.

5.     We are well-positioned to seize opportunities in new growth frontiers for the industry, such as sustainability and digitalisation. We are already making waves in these areas. To decarbonise the maritime sector, we will electrify our harbour crafts and test-bed new fuels and more sustainable modes of operation for shipping. 

6.     In July this year, the world’s first ship-to-containership bunkering of methanol was successfully conducted within Singapore’s port by Maersk and Hong Lam Marine Pte Ltd, with support from MPA.

7.     Just last week, Singapore welcomed Suiso Frontier, the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier to Singapore. Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean and myself visited the vessel on Pulau Bukom. Long-distance transportation of hydrogen is not without challenges. 

8.     Being able to do so safely and reliably will be crucial to our efforts to decarbonise our energy mix for power generation, bunkering and other applications. These were major milestones in Singapore’s development as a multi-fuel hub to support the different future fuel needs of international shipping.

9.     There are many more exciting Possibilities on the horizon. Advancements in digitalisation have enabled new capabilities in automation, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and drones, which will bring about significant operational benefits.

10.    The digitalPORT@SGTM Just-In-Time planning and coordination platform will optimise port clearance and ship arrival and departure, using artificial intelligence in the optimisation and scheduling of port resources.  

11.    Such moves are good for business because they reduce waiting time and costs, and they are also good for the environment because they reduce carbon emissions. To enhance the productivity of bunkering processes and documentation, more than 100 trials have been conducted to support digital bunkering. MPA will share more details in the coming weeks.

12.    We will also need to ensure that our cybersecurity systems are up to the task of protecting our new digital technologies. For example, we are developing the Maritime Testbed of Shipboard Operational Technology (MariOT) system.

13.    This will be the world’s first industrial-grade cyber-physical platform, offering a safe and realistic testing environment for cybersecurity technologies, without disrupting actual vessel operations.

Passionate and Talented People 

14.    The Possibilities in the maritime sector can only be realised through the dedication, talents and efforts of our People. This is why Maritime Singapore places great emphasis on developing and investing in our workforce, both our existing employees and the next generation of maritime workers, including our scholarship recipients today.

15.    This year, we are awarding 60 MaritimeONE Scholarships and 7 Tripartite Maritime Scholarships, worth $2.4 million in total. Many past scholarship recipients have gone on to establish meaningful careers within the maritime sector.

16.    Take Mr Raymond Tan, who received a MaritimeONE scholarship to study Maritime Studies at NTU in 2007, and later earned a Master of Science in Innovation from SMU.

17.    Raymond has had a varied career in the maritime sector, including technical, operational and commercial roles. He started a company, Ohceans, which designs and builds software solutions for companies in the maritime sector, including shipping lines like Pacific International Lines and Orient Marine Agencies.

18.    Raymond has used his keen understanding of maritime, his skills in technology development, and his entrepreneurial spirit, to create value and seize opportunities amidst the ongoing transformation of the maritime sector.

19.    Another example is Mr Vijay s/o Dhanabalan, who was awarded the TMSS in 2003. He joined the maritime industry at the age of 22, and sailed around the world as a Marine Engineer with AP Moller Singapore. Returning to shore at the age of 29 with his Certificate of Competency Class 1, he served in various capacities on shore with Maersk Tankers for 18 years.

20.    Vijay has progressed through the ranks and is now a Senior Technical Superintendent at Synergy Marine Group. I hope that Raymond and Vijay’s stories will inspire our scholarship recipients this evening to look across the horizons and explore the wide open seas, as you pursue your dreams and aspirations. 

21.    We will support you in your journey. Our MaritimeONE scholars will have opportunities to network across the maritime ecosystem with both local and international partners, and we will match you with seasoned industry mentors for career guidance.

22.    Our TMSS scholars will set sail, to see the world and gain seafaring skills and experience. These will be invaluable whether you continue with your seafaring careers or decide to transit to on-shore roles, such as marine and technical superintendents overseeing vessel operations.

23.    For students who may not be on a maritime scholarship but are keen to participate and to experience a career in the maritime sector, SMF and MPA offer many other programmes. One such programme is the MPA Global Internship Award (GIA).

24.    Since 2013, the GIA has sponsored over 340 undergraduates to gain exposure and on-the-job training in the maritime industry. One beneficiary of the GIA is Mr Senthilnathan Kumaraval. I met Senthil when he was doing his overseas internship with DS Norden in Denmark when we visited earlier this year.

25.    Through his internship, Senthil gained hands-on experience with DS Norden’s chartering processes, as well as their voyage management and maritime communication technology platforms.

26.    I am confident that Senthil will have many opportunities to apply his skills and experience in the maritime sector in future, after he completes his studies and joins the industry.

27.    Given the strong interest from students and companies in the GIA since its inception, I am happy to announce that MPA will extend the programme for another six years, from 2024 to 2029. 

Our Strong Tripartite Partnership

28.    I have earlier covered 2 of the 3 Ps – Possibilities and People. Let me now speak about the third P – Partnership. In particular, our special form of tripartite partnership in Singapore between our industry, unions and government.  

28.    The MaritimeONE scholarship is a partnership between SMF, MPA, and 31 industry sponsors. The TMSS is a joint initiative by MPA, shipping companies, and our seafaring unions (SMOU and SOS) to groom the next generation of local seafarers.

30.    When MPA rolled out the Sail Milestone Achievement Programme (SailMAP) to support local seafarers to pursue their seafaring careers for the long term, it was also a tripartite effort supported by our industry and unions.  

31.    There are many other examples, including initiatives that we launched during the Covid-19 crisis to facilitate crew change and vaccination for seafarers. But I will not list them down one by one, otherwise we will be here all night.   

32.    The important message that I want to get across to all of you is that with the continued commitment from all our tripartite Partners to invest in developing our People for the future, Maritime Singapore is well-placed to turn the exciting Possibilities of our industry into reality, and in turn benefit our companies and workers.

33.    Once again, I would like to congratulate our scholarship recipients, and wish you the very best in your future endeavours.

34.    Thank you.


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