IS@S Week 2023: Fostering Maritime Safety in the Decarbonisation and Digitalisation Age


     Themed “Advancing Maritime Safety in a Green and Digital Age”, the 10th edition of the International Safety@Sea (IS@S) Week, from 23 to 27 October 2023, was launched by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Acting Minister for Transport and Senior Minister of State for Finance during the IS@S Conference today. The annual event, organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), brings together maritime experts and top practitioners from the local and international maritime community to discuss challenges and new opportunities concerning maritime safety in the decarbonisation and digitalisation age.

2.   This year’s conference will feature over 20 local and international speakers. Mr Chee also shared various MPA-led initiatives to enhance safety at sea in his opening speech. More than 350 participants from close to 20 countries are expected to attend the event. Please refer to Annex A for the IS@S conference programme. 

3.   Several initiatives were announced or will be conducted during IS@S week:

  • New community volunteer programme pilot to enhance safety at sea;
  • Multi-agency Ferry Rescue Exercise (FEREX), which will be centred on an electric ferry mishap for the first time; and
  • Presentation of International Safety@Sea Awards.

4.   MPA will also be organising the Singapore Registry of Ships (SRS) Forum in the same week, which will discuss the opportunities arising from digital initiatives and the adoption of the 2023 International Maritime Organization Strategy on Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships.  

New Community Volunteer Programme to Enhance Safety at Sea 

5.   Ensuring safety at sea is a shared responsibility. MPA and the National Maritime Safety at Sea Council (NMSSC) are developing a new volunteer programme to build and train a network of community volunteers. This would complement government agencies’ response to search and rescue efforts within Singapore waters. MPA will consult various stakeholders and share further details in 2024.

International Safety@Sea Awards 

6.   During the IS@S Conference, Chairman of NMSSC presented the IS@S Awards to two companies for their outstanding contributions to Search and Rescue (SAR) efforts in 2022. 

7.   NYK Shipmanagement Pte Ltd, and the master and crew of HELIOS LEADER, were recognised for their role in a challenging SAR operation amidst adverse weather conditions on 7 November 2022. More than 300 people were rescued from a sinking boat in the South China Sea, and brought onboard the ship about four hours after it received the distress message from MRCC Singapore.

8.   Pacific International Lines, and the master and crew of KOTA SURIA, were recognised for assistance rendered after responding to a distress message off West Africa in the Gulf of Guinea on 9 April 2022. Despite the security risks in this location, they deviated from course for about four hours before finding and rescuing the entire crew of a cargo vessel that had stopped at sea due to water ingress and flooding of the engine room. KOTA SURIA was only able to resume its voyage seven days later after the rescued crew onboard KOTA SURIA disembarked at Cape Town.

Multi-agency Ferry Rescue Exercise (FEREX)

9.   As part of IS@S Week, the annual multi-agency Ferry Rescue Exercise (FEREX) will be conducted to validate Singapore’s operational readiness and response capabilities in the event of a ferry mishap incident, on 24 October. FEREX comprises a Table-Top Exercise and a Ground Deployment Exercise, involving eight vessels, a helicopter and over 180 personnel from close to 30 agencies, industry partners, and observer organisations1. FEREX will simulate seaward and landward exercises off Pulau Bukom and at the Pasir Panjang Ferry Terminal. 

10.   This year’s FEREX scenario will be centred on an electric ferry mishap for the first time, reflecting the need to ensure Singapore is well-prepared for potential battery-operated craft mishaps as more electric harbour craft ply our waters. The exercise will simulate excessive heat and battery fire in one of the two battery compartments onboard the electric ferry, and the resultant passengers’ evacuation, medical treatment and fire containment efforts by ferry crew and government agencies. 

11.   MPA’s Ferry Mishap Contingency Plan will be activated to evaluate the operational readiness of agencies and the ferry operator. Seaward resources, including patrol craft, firefighting rescue vessels, electric ferries, and a helicopter2, will secure the area and manage passenger evacuation. At the terminal, the Singapore Civil Defence Force will render emergency medical treatment to “injured” passengers, while the Singapore Police Force will maintain law and order. The terminal staff will also manage crowd control. 

Singapore Registry of Ships Forum (SRS Forum)

12.   MPA will also host the Singapore Registry of Ships (SRS) Forum on 26 October. Themed “Safe, Secure & Sustainable Shipping”, this annual forum will bring together 300 representatives from the industry and government agencies to facilitate dialogues and knowledge-sharing on key issues, challenges, and opportunities in the areas of maritime digitalisation, safety, security and decarbonisation.

13.   The SRS Top Net Tonnage Contributor and Green Ship Programme (GSP)3 will be presented at the forum4. This year, 22 Singapore-flagged ships from 10 companies will receive Green Ship certificates through the GSP. Since 2011, more than 650 ships have been recognised as green ships.

14.   Additionally, 71 seafarers will be awarded the Sail Milestone Achievement Programme (SailMAP) financial incentives worth $455,000. The SailMAP provides each eligible local seafarer with up to $50,000 as they achieve key milestones in their seafaring training, leading to the Certificate of Competency Class 1, the highest level of shipboard competency5

1 Besides MPA, the participating government entities in the FEREX Ground Deployment Exercise and Table-top Exercise include the Singapore Police Force (SPF), the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), the National Environment Agency (NEA), National Parks Board. The participating industry partners include Shell, Penguin International, Singapore Cruise Centre Pte Ltd, Skyports and West Squadron Marine Services. The organisations who will be observing FEREX include representatives from Class Societies, regional ferry operators and Ministry of Health.
2 The seaward resources include two MPA patrol craft, a Police Coast Guard 5th Generation PT class patrol craft, an RSN Independence-class Littoral Mission Vessel, an RSAF H225M Medium Lift helicopter, two SCDF Rapid Response Fire Vessels and two Penguin electric ferries.
3 Launched in 2011, the Green Ship Programme is a programme under the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative which provides incentives and reductions of fees for ship owners who voluntarily adopt solutions that enable ships to exceed environmental regulatory standards set by the International Maritime Organization. The certificates acknowledge their efforts in reducing their fleets’ environmental impact, embracing innovations like using low-carbon fuels such as methanol and implementing energy-efficient technologies that enabled the ships to surpass the Energy Efficiency Design Index requirements mandated by the IMO.
4 The complete list of Singapore Registry of Ships (SRS) award recipients, including the SRS Top Net Tonnage Contributor and ships receiving the Green Ship Certificates will be updated in Annex C with this release on 26 October after the SRS Forum. MPA will inform media subsequently to update their reporting.
5 The SailMAP incentives include waiver of fees for the first examination attempt for the Certificate of Competency Class 3/5, a monthly allowance of S$1,000 while studying, and bonuses of up to S$10,000 on completion of each shipboard training milestone.