30 November 2018

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1     Good morning and a warm welcome to the Singapore Registry of Ships Forum 2018. It is my privilege to join you today. 

2     I would like to begin by thanking the shipping community here for the strong support to the Singapore Flag. I am glad to share that the Singapore Registry of Ships has crossed the 91 million GT milestone, maintaining our position among the top five biggest registries in the world. 

3     Singapore-registered ships have also continued to perform well under the various port State control regimes. I believe none of this would be possible without everyone in this room playing their part.

Transforming the industry amidst challenges 

4     As you know, the industry continues to face challenges from a combination of slower economic growth, growing environmental regulations and changes brought about by disruptive technologies. Having said that, these challenges can also bring about opportunities.

5     In particular, the onset of new technologies such as autonomous systems, Internet of Things, Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence open up new opportunities for ships and ports to be more efficient, intelligent and interconnected. Just yesterday we held the pitch day of our Smart Port Challenge 2018 and the various ideas that have surfaced demonstrate the potential uses of many of today’s technologies that are available – from remote health monitoring, intelligent tracking of assets and people, e-platforms to optimise the deployment of resources as well as use of machine learning/AI in a variety of algorithms to improve business decisions. It has given us many ideas that we can also apply to such areas as how to enhance our Singapore Registry of Ships. I hope all of you will similarly leverage on such platforms as PIER71, our maritime accelerator initiative, to scout for new ideas and innovative solutions.

6     To position our maritime sector for the future, MPA has launched the Industry Transformation Map or ITM for short at the beginning of this year. It will support our vision for Singapore to be the Global Maritime Hub for Connectivity, Innovation and Talent. As part of the ITM, MPA will focus on productivity, innovation, internationalisation of local companies, as well as jobs and skills for those in the industry.

Preparing SRS for the IMO 2020 Fuel Oil Sulphur Limit

7     Let me now touch on the impending environmental regulations affecting the industry, in particular the IMO 2020 Fuel Oil Sulphur Limit, and how we are working with our stakeholders to be prepared for its implementation.

8     As you are aware, come 1st January 2020, all ships are required to use compliant fuel oil of not more than 0.5 per cent sulphur content. In addition, ships are not allowed to carry non-compliant fuel oil from 1st March 2020. The use and carriage ban of non-compliant fuel do not apply to ships that are fitted with abatement technology such as scrubbers or granted with exemptions for trial of such technology.

9     To help prepare the industry for the IMO 2020 Fuel Oil Sulphur Limit, we have developed a comprehensive action plan. Working together with the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), we have published two technical guidance booklets, one for Singapore-registered ships and another one for ships calling at the Port of Singapore [Show booklets]. The booklets provide detailed guidance and best practices for ships to comply with the IMO 2020 regulations, as well as the requirements and procedures that ships have to abide by when calling at Singapore. Hardcopy of these guidance booklets are available here today. You may also download the electronic versions from our MPA website.

10     In addition to these guidance booklets, we will be issuing another set of guidance by the second quarter of 2019, detailing Singapore’s readiness for the IMO 2020 regulations, covering topics such as fuel availability in Singapore, reception facilities for scrubber residues, and enforcement measures, bearing in mind the need to ensure there is no disruptive impact to shipping, which we are highly conscious of.

11     We will also be organising various engagement platforms to address any concerns that the industry may have in the run up to 2020 and beyond, and to update you of any new developments. Next year, we will hold a technical workshop jointly with SSA for SRS operators, and also an MPA-SSA industry panel discussion. Additionally, we will be engaging like-minded ports and maritime administrations to share best practices in the implementation of this regulation. This topic will also be further discussed at SRS Forum 2019.

12     As a major bunkering hub, we are working closely with our bunker suppliers to ensure that there will be adequate supply of compliant fuel oil in Singapore well in advance of 2020. We will produce a list of suppliers that are able to supply compliant fuel by the middle of next year.

13     To protect the marine environment and ensure that the port waters are clean, the discharge of wash water from open-loop exhaust gas scrubbers in Singapore port waters will be prohibited. Ships fitted with open-loop scrubbers calling at Singapore will be required to use compliant fuel. Ships fitted with hybrid scrubbers will be required to switch to the closed-loop mode of operation. Singapore, as a party to MARPOL Annex VI, will be providing reception facilities for the collection of residues generated from the operation of scrubbers.

14     SRS operators are encouraged to plan ahead and ensure compliance with the IMO 2020 regulations in order to safeguard Singapore’s Quality Flag status.

Service enhancements and digitalisation of SRS

15     I mentioned earlier about the new technologies in our midst. In our push to better serve our shipping community and embrace the digitalisation of the maritime industry, we have embarked on several service enhancements. Let me share some of these initiatives with you.

16     Towards end of last year, we have launched the 24/7 customer service hotline to respond to urgent ship technical, crewing and registry matters after office hours. This service has been well-utilised. I would encourage everyone to continue to make use of this service when you have really urgent issues to address.

17     MPA has also commenced the issuance of E-certificates to Singapore-registered ships since December 2017. We are expanding it in phases. All Singapore-registered ships will be receiving their E-certs upon issuance of new certificates or renewal of existing certificates. To date, about 10,000 E-certs have been issued by MPA to Singapore-registered ships. Recognised Organisations (ROs) such as ABS, BV, DNV GL, CCS and ClassNK have also started issuing statutory E-certs to Singapore-registered ships on MPA’s behalf.

18     To promote the adoption of remote inspection techniques such as the use of drones, we have published our acceptance criteria for the use of remote inspection techniques for surveys. The use of remote inspection techniques enhances safety as marine surveyors do not need to put themselves in precarious positions on board ships to conduct inspections. More can be done in this regard as the technology improves.

19     To ensure Singapore ships operate at a high standard of safety worldwide and perform well when inspected by foreign port authorities, we have earlier this year implemented the SRS Quality Flag Assessment 5-year Programme, or SRS QP5 for short. Under this programme, in addition to local inspections, our Flag State Control officers will also conduct overseas inspection on selected Singapore ships. Ships are selected for overseas inspection based on a risk matrix, taking into account whether the ships call at Singapore. During these overseas trips, our officers will also take the opportunity to visit and enhance our bilateral ties with the local port authorities.

20     In addition, we have expanded the suite of services on MARINET. For example, application for the Singapore Seaman Discharge Book and the Maritime Labour Convention financial security certificates can now be completed on MARINET. To minimise delays in crew signing on board Singapore ships, the Receipt of Acknowledgement will be automatically issued upon application of MPA’s Certificate of Endorsement.

21     To embrace and harness new technologies for productivity, we have, in collaboration with various stakeholders such as Pacific International Lines, Lloyd’s Register and Microsoft, completed the Proof of Concepts for the use of Blockchain for ship registration and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for the issuance of crew and ship certificates. We will continue to explore the use of these new technologies and implement them by the third quarter of 2019.

22     Moving ahead, we are working on improving our processes for online submissions and e-appointments so as to enhance the experience for our customers.

23     Let us work together to ride this digitalisation wave for a more productive, efficient and sustainable future.

In Closing – Close Collaboration Remains Key

24     Ladies and gentlemen, before I close, I want to recognise Singapore companies that have helped us cross the 90th and 91th million GT milestones. We will be presenting the SRS Milestone Gifts to these ship owners later. We will also be recognising companies that have made good on their commitments to the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative by awarding them with MPA’s Green Ship certificates. 

25     Finally, we will also be giving out Manpower Recognition Awards to companies that have contributed significantly to the training of Singaporeans. We are proud to have these companies and ships with the Singapore Flag and we urge them to continue their good efforts.

26     There is much to look forward to today at the SRS Forum 2018. We have achieved so much only because we have come together as one community to resolve issues constructively always with an eye to the future and what we can do to enhance the competitiveness of our SRS. 

27     Let me also take this opportunity to introduce my successor Ms Quah Ley Hoon, who will take over from me on 1 Jan 2019. This will be my last address to the shipping community. I have benefitted tremendously from everyone’s cooperation and friendship, and I am confident you will extend this to Ley Hoon. Let’s continue to work together to transform Maritime Singapore into one of the world’s leading maritime hubs. On this note, I wish everyone a rewarding discussion today. 

28     Thank you.