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Saturday, 31 May 2014

MPA blames human error for Singapore collisions

Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority has blamed human error for the three collisions that caused oil spills in its waters earlier this year, while at the same time urging PSA Marine to define procedures for its pilots to follow in case of communications failure.

After conducting its own investigation into the incidents which occurred between late January and early February 2014, the MPA concluded that “human error and poor judgement of the situation was the main cause of the three collisions.”

“Appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken against the members of the bridge teams, including the pilots, for contravening the relevant regulations,” the MPA says in a statement released on Thursday. It says that the bridge teams, including the pilots, did not make use of all available means at their disposal, such as AIS, ARPA, Radar, and ECDIS, to avoid the collisions.

Following the incidents, a Safety Review Committee (SRC), comprising delegates from the MPA, the Ministry of Transport, the shipping industry and local academia, reviewed the overall system of navigational safety in Singapore's port waters and Singapore Strait.

It suggests that passage plans be transmitted to ships in a timelier manner. It also recommends PSA Marine set up “procedures for its pilots to follow when communications failure occurs between the pilots on converging ships, or between the Vessel Traffic Information System (VTIS) and their ships.”

The SRC adds that “MPA's VTIS should consider providing more active advisories to vessels navigating at high traffic density areas in the port of Singapore and in the Singapore Strait.” It advises ship masters be present on the bridge when their ships are transiting critical areas in the Singapore Strait.

On January 29th, a Hong Kong-flagged chemical tanker collided with a China-flagged containership about 2.7 km south of Jurong Island, although the MPA’s Port Operations Control Centre (POCC) had attempted to alert the two vessels of their converging courses.

Less than 10 hours later, a Panama-flagged containership collided into a barge, about 4km south of Marina South, despite being informed of the presence of the barge in the fairway.

On February 10th, another collision involved a Liberia-flagged containership and a Panama-flagged chemical tanker, although the POCC had provided traffic information to both vessels and alerted the tanker that the containership was crossing the traffic lane.

All three incidents resulted in oil spills.

"We will work more closely with all our industry partners to review our safety management procedures and implement additional measures to enhance navigational safety,” says MPA chief executive Andrew Tan in Thursday’s press release. “We will also not hesitate to take appropriate actions against those who infringe our safety regulations."

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