Port Marine Safety

MPA’s Marine Environment and Safety Department strives to ensure MPA Port Regulations and Acts on marine safety and environmental protection are enforced effectively in the port waters so as to safeguard and promote Singapore’s status as a global hub port. This section provides information on various application procedures and guidelines for ship’s related activity which is commonly carried out in the port of Singapore.

  • Application Procedures and Guidelines For Vessels Intending To Carry Out Lowering Or Launching Of Conventional Lifeboat / Free Fall Lifeboat / Rescue Boat Into The Water At Anchorages

Master of vessel is responsible for the safety of personnel involved in drills and is to familiarise himself and the vessel’s crew with the following lifeboat related IMO guidelines and recommendations prior the actual drill:

a) MPA Shipping Circular 16 of 2008
b) MPA Shipping Circular 15 of 2008
c) MPA Shipping Circular 21 of 2007
d) MPA Shipping Circular 25 of 2006
e) MPA Shipping Circular 18 of 2006
f) MPA Shipping Circular 09 of 2005
g) MPA Shipping Circular 08 of 2005 and ;
h) any other latest circulars published at MPA Website


Prior commencement of drill

The lifeboat lowering/free fall launching/rescue boat drill is to be supervised by a competent personnel.

The Master is to ensure that all safety measures and precautions are being observed in accordance with the vessel’s safety management system (SMS) and lifeboat / rescue boat instruction manuals.

Safety briefing to all personnel involved shall be conducted prior to commencement of the drill.

The operation must be carried out during daylight hours only.

The operation shall not be carried out concurrently with any other activity such as bunkering, overside cargo operation, underwater diving, main engine immobilization etc.

Master of vessel shall Inform the Marine Safety Control Centre (MSCC) via VHF CH 07 or Tel 63252488/2489; 30 mins prior to commencement, upon completion and in the event of suspension of the operation.

Conducting the drill

There must be a safety boat in attendance if the lifeboat or rescue boat drill requires manoeuvring in the water as part of the drill. Manoeuvring of the lifeboat should be kept within the ship's length. The lifeboat / rescue boat is not permitted to loiter about at the anchorages. Note: The safety boat must be a suitable size harbour craft and should be able to hold and tow the lifeboat / rescue boat, if required. The ship's rescue boat or lifeboats are not permitted for use as a safety 0boat.)

The launch area must be clear of traffic before the lowering commence. The safety boat if provided, must warn all approaching traffic of the operation.

There shall be no person(s) in the lifeboat /rescue boat during its lowering, launching and recovery.

The drill shall abort immediately in the event of emergency, inclement weather condition or any likelihood of safety being compromised.

Application Procedures

  • Free fall lifeboat launching and/or Lifeboat drills involving in-water maneuvering  - Shipowners, masters or agents of vessels are required to obtain written approval from MPA’s Marine Environment and Safety Department (MESD) at least three (3) working days prior the intended operation. Permission for free fall lifeboat launching is only granted to be carried out at Sudong Special Purpose and Raffles Reserve anchorages and subject to space availability. Such request may be transmitted by FAX no: 63252430 or via email: pms@mpa.gov.sg with the following information:
    •     Name, IMO Number, Call sign, type and maximum height of vessel.
    •     Proposed location and date of drill;
    •     Harbour craft licence number of safety boat;
    •     Name of shipyard/berth and Terminal manager's approval if drills are being carried out alongside berth;
    •     Ship specific Safe Operating Procedures (SOP) for the intended operation endorsed by Master or Vessel Managers;
    •     vi Any other activity intended to be carried out at location.


  • Lifeboat drills which do not require in-water manoeuvring - Shipowners, masters or agents of vessels to obtain approval by calling Marine Safety Control Centre via VHF Channel 07 or Tel: 6325 2488/2489 by providing the following information:
  • Name, IMO Number or Call sign, type and maximum height of vessel;
  • Proposed location and date and time of drill.

With reference to Shipping Circular No. 12 of 2016, the following list of Frequently Asked Questions is prepared to facilitate the implementation of SOLAS Regulation VI/2.


Q1:      Who are the stakeholders affected by SOLAS Regulation VI/2?

A1:      The main stakeholders are shippers, terminal operators, vessel masters and their representatives.



Q2:      Who qualifies as a ‘shipper’ for the purpose of compliance with SOLAS Regulation VI/2?

A2:      A shipper for the purpose of compliance with SOLAS Regulation VI/2 includes:

  • A legal entity or person who is named as the shipper on a bill of lading, sea waybill or equivalent multimodal transport document (e.g. a “through” bill of lading); 
  • A legal entity or person who, or in whose name or on whose behalf, a contract of carriage has been concluded with a shipping company;
  • The owner or exporter of the cargo; and
  • Hauliers, freight forwarders or Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) acting on behalf of the above.

For containerised cargoes with more than one shipper, i.e. in the case of Less-Than-Container Load (LCL) cargoes, the master shipper that is named on the bill of lading shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with SOLAS Regulation VI/2.  


Q3:    What are the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder when transporting a container carrying cargo?

A3:    The shipper is responsible for ensuring that:

  • The Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of a packed container is obtained using either Method 1 or 2, described at A4 below; and
  • The VGM is recorded on the shipping document and submitted to the terminal operator and the vessel master or his representative in a timely manner.


The terminal operator and vessel master or his representative are responsible for ensuring that:

  • Containers packed with packages and cargo items are not loaded onto a ship unless the VGM of the container has been obtained by the vessel master or his representative and the terminal representative; and
  • The submitted VGM is used for ship stowage planning.


Q4:      How should the VGM of a container be obtained?

A4:      The VGM of the container must be obtained by one of the following methods:

Method 1: Weighing the packed container as a whole using a weighing instrument that has been verified by an Authorised Verifier designated by SPRING Singapore under the Singapore Weights and Measures Programme;

Method 2: Weighing the individual packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other securing material, using weighing instruments that have been verified by an Authorised Verifier designated by SPRING Singapore under the Singapore Weights and Measures Programme, and adding the sum to the tare mass of the container.

The shipper must maintain records of the weighing process to ensure that the process used to derive the VGM is traceable. Such records should trail the process and document details of the equipment used to demonstrate compliance with either Method 1 or 2 as described above.   


Q5:      Who is the designated authority for the implementation of SOLAS Regulation VI/2 in Singapore?

A5:  SOLAS Regulation VI/2 will be legislated under the Merchant Shipping (Safety Convention) Regulations. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will be the agency implementing and enforcing the requirements.


Q6:      Are there any exceptions to the SOLAS Regulation VI/2 requirements?

A6:      The following exceptions apply:

  • Containers carried on a chassis or a trailer when such containers are driven on or off a ro-ro ship engaged in short international voyages as defined in SOLAS Regulation III/3 are excluded;
  • Transhipment containers loaded at their port of origin after 1 July 2016 need not be re-weighed to obtain a VGM. Where a packed container is delivered to a port terminal facility by a ship to which SOLAS Regulation VI/2 applies, the VGM should have been obtained before it was loaded on to the delivering ship; and
  • Transhipment containers loaded at their port of origin before 1 July 2016 are not subject to SOLAS Regulation VI/2 and are not required to declare their VGM during transhipment at Singapore.


Q7:      Is the shipper required to be accredited to demonstrate compliance with weighing methods 1 or 2?

A7:      MPA does not require the shipper to be accredited to show compliance with weighing methods 1 or 2 (described at A4 above). However, the shipper must exercise due dilligence when obtaining VGMs of packed containers and must ensure compliance with one of the two methods.


Q8:      Is the shipper required to be registered as a shipper and/or registered for a specific method used to obtain the VGM?

A8:      There are no regulatory requirements for the shipper to be registered or pre-approved for the use of either method 1 or 2 to obtain the VGM.


Q9:      Is the shipper required to declare the method used to obtain the VGM in the shipping document?

A9:      SOLAS Regulation VI/2 does not require the shipper to provide the method used to obtain the VGM. Nevertheless, if requested by the terminal operator or the vessel master or his representative, the shipper is encouraged to declare the method used accordingly.


Q10:    Is it mandatory to include a weight certificate produced by a weighing station as part of the shipping document?

A10:    MPA does not require a weight certificate to be included as part of the shipping document. The VGM submitted in the shipping document by the shipper to the vessel master or his representative and to the terminal representative will be deemed acceptable unless there is evidence to show otherwise.


Q11:    Can the VGM be submitted via the electronic submission of the shipping document?

A11:    The shipping document on which the VGM is recorded may be submitted via electronic data processing (EDP) and electronic data interchange (EDI) transmission techniques. This includes electronic platforms used by terminal operators such as JP-online and Portnet. The signature may be an electronic signature or may be replaced by the name, in block letters, of the person authorized to sign.


Q12:    What are the consequences of export containerised cargoes arriving at the terminal operator’s gate without a VGM?

A12:    If the VGM has not been submitted at the time of arrival at the terminal operator’s gate, the terminal operator will not load the export container on to the vessel until the VGM has been obtained. However, the terminal operator has discretion to turn away the container at gate or allow its entry into the terminal. To avoid operational disruptions, stakeholders are advised to ensure that the VGM has been submitted to the terminal operator before arrival.


Q13:    Is there a deadline by which the export shipping document and VGM must be submitted?

A13:    The export shipping document and VGM must be submitted to the master or master’s representative and the terminal representative sufficiently in advance to allow ship stowage planning. The appropriate deadline may be determined by the stakeholders involved.  


Q14:    Is there a specified margin of error allowed for the declared VGM?

A14:    The SOLAS Regulations VI/2 does not provide for any margin of error in the VGM. However, taking on board the industry’s recommendations, MPA will at present allow a negligible margin of error of +/-5% of the VGM.


Q15:    Are Terminal Operators required to re-weigh all local export containers?

A15:    Terminal operators are not required to re-weigh all local export containers. However, the local shipping community had during industrial consultations requested for the terminal operators to continue weighing services at their gates.


Q16:    Will containers on board ships be offloaded for re-weighing to demonstrate compliance with SOLAS Regulation VI/2?

A16:    If a VGM is submitted as required and there is no reason to believe that the VGM is incorrect, the declared VGM will be deemed to be correct.


Q17:    How will MPA enforce the requirements under SOLAS Regulation VI/2?

A17:    MPA will conduct ad-hoc inspections from time to time, to ensure that all stakeholders comply with the requirements. The weight obtained by terminal operators (e.g. PSA and Jurong Port) using their weighbridges located at the terminal gates may be utilised for the purposes of counter checking declared VGMs. Terminal operators will also inform MPA in the event of serious breaches of a shipper’s obligation to provide an accurate VGM. 


          The stakeholders are invited to note MSC.1/Circ.1548 issued by the 96th Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organization on the concerns of Member States regarding practical aspects of compliance with the aforementioned SOLAS amendments, in particular, relating to transhipped containers and communication of VGM information, in an initial period following their entry into force. MPA will adopt a practical and pragmatic approach when verifying compliance with the requirements of SOLAS regulations VI/2.4 to VI/2.6 for a period of three months after 1 July 2016. However, stakeholders are still required to comply with the requirements starting from 1 July 2016



Q18:    When will the SOLAS Regulation VI/2 requirements come into force?

A18:    The SOLAS Regulation VI/2 requirements will come into force on 1 Jul 2016.



Q19:    What is the new workflow for export containers?

A19:    The new export workflow for export containers from Singapore is outlined in the diagram below:



Note:  Double-mounting of 2x20”, Out-of-gauge, Direct Loading and Jurong Island Terminal containers are excluded from weighing by the terminal