Singapore oil spills were caused by lack of ECDIS use

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has stated that human error was the main cause of three vessel collisions that led to oil spills occurring in port waters and the Singapore Strait earlier this year.

The oil spills had taken place in three separate incidents and, following an investigation by the MPA, it has emerged that bridge teams on the ships had not made use of their ECDIS equipment on the bridge. In total, bridge teams, including the pilots, had a distinct lack of situational awareness, even though they had been given firm instructions by the Port Operations Control Centre.

A Safety Review Committee has since been established to further improve navigational safety in the region; a group that includes individuals from the MPA, the Ministry of Transport, maritime industry leaders and local research academics. While the number of incidents per 1,00 vessel movements in Singapore port waters has averaged between 0.012 and 0.016 between 2007 and 2013, the committee will still be working hard to develop communication and shared information between ship masters and pilots, while new legislation may be introduced to offer more active advisories to vessels.

MPA chief executive Andrew Tan said: “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.”

MPA is set to soon launch a major safety campaign to further promote the use of ECDIS within the shipping community.