SPEECH BY CAPT KHONG SHEN PING, MARITIME AND PORT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE, AT THE HANDING AND TAKING OVER OF MARITIME FIRE-FIGHTING FUNCTION, AT WEST COAST PIER ON SUNDAY, 1 APRIL 2012, 9.45AM

02 April 2012

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning.

It is my pleasure to be here today at this ceremony where we hand over MPA's maritime fire fighting and rescue functions to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (or SCDF).

The Port of Singapore is one of the busiest ports in the world. In 2011 alone, vessel arrival tonnage at our port crossed a new record of 2.12 billion gross tons. With approximately 1,000 vessels in our port at any one time, ensuring the safety and security of our port waters are of utmost priority.

It was with this in mind that MPA first set up our maritime fire fighting unit in February 2002 to respond to shipboard incidents in the Port of Singapore. In addition to building the maritime firebase at West Coast Pier and the two Api Apis, we also set forth on recruiting and training able men to carry out the fire fighting operations. The unit has transformed itself over the past 10 years into a professional and efficient response team capable of tackling the various challenges in one of the world's busiest ports. Having a capable fire fighting unit has been critical to the competitiveness of our port as it has ensured that we provide expedient response to shipboard incidents, with minimal disruptions to our port operations.

In an effort to augment Singapore's maritime fire fighting and incident response capabilities for our ever-growing port, we reviewed our current capabilities, in consultation with other agencies. The results from the review showed that in order to enhance Singapore's ability to respond to a wider range of incidents, it would be necessary for us to pool our resources under one agency. Hence, the decision to transfer MPA's maritime fire fighting functions to SCDF. Officers from both MPA and SCDF have worked together closely over the past year to ensure that the maritime fire fighting and rescue functions are transferred without compromising the level of service offered in our port.

Although we are sad that our Marine Emergency Officers and Marine Emergency Assistants will no longer be a part of the MPA family, we are heartened that most of them have decided to continue their careers with SCDF. I am also confident that under the guidance of Commander Derek Tan, Singapore's capabilities in maritime fire fighting and rescue will be enhanced by an integrated unit that is equipped to handle both land and sea incidents.

Thank you.