As a major focal point for seaborne trade in Asia, Singapore ushered in a new era in its maritime history when MPA was formed on 2 February 1996. Its mission is to develop Singapore into a premier global hub port and international maritime centre, and to advance and safeguard Singapore's strategic maritime interests. The new statutory board brought together the regulatory functions for the maritime sector under the then National Maritime Board, the Marine Department of the former Ministry of Communications, and the Port of Singapore Authority.
With an initial strength of about 400 people, MPA was housed in several locations such as PSA Building, World Trade Centre, Maritime House, Tanjong Pagar Complex, and Training School Singapore in Sembawang, a shore-based training school for seamen.
|1997||MPA issued the newly-corporatised port operator PSA Corporation a public licence to provide port facilities and services in Singapore.|
On 19 May 1998, the International Maritime Organization adopted a joint proposal by Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore to introduce a mandatory ship reporting system in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. Known as STRAITREP, the reporting system meant that certain categories of ships passing through the Straits would now have to report to the designated shore-based STRAITREP authorities – marking an important step towards ensuring that ships can navigate safely and efficiently through the waters, while protecting the marine environment.
|1999||A big year in maritime technology: MPA pioneered the first electronic version of tidal predictions called Electronic Tide Tables and launched the MARINET, an Internet-based e-commerce system for shipping transactions. Both were part of MPA's continuing efforts to benefit the shipping community by making digitised information readily available.|
|2000||On 20 January 2000, then Minister for Communications and Information Technology Yeo Cheow Tong officially launched MPA's second Port Operations Control Centre (POCC) at PSA Vista. The POCC, which later underwent a S$10 million upgrading project in 2012, uses a state-of-the-art marine surveillance, communication and information system known as the Vessel Traffic Information System to help vessels navigate the waters safely and efficiently.|
|2001||MPA's then Director-General Chen Tze Penn was elected as Chairman of the International Maritime Organization Council, becoming the first Singaporean to hold the position. This was a landmark achievement for Singapore, which had only been a Council member for 8 years at the time.|
|2002||To promote the growth of the maritime industry in Singapore, MPA unveiled the S$80 million Maritime Cluster Fund, aimed at supporting the industry's manpower and business development efforts. The S$12 million Integrated Simulation Centre, one of the most sophisticated maritime simulation centres in the world at the time, was also launched to meet the shipping industryʼs increasing demands for well-trained seafarers.|
|2003||A Maritime Technology Cluster Development Roadmap was established to spearhead the development of Singapore as a centre of excellence for maritime research and development, a key driving force for Singapore's growth in the sector. To support the programmes and schemes under this roadmap, including building a pool of skilled maritime manpower and co-investing into maritime technology start-ups, the S$100 million Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund was launched.|
MPA took on the role as the champion agency to spearhead the promotion and development of Singapore as an international maritime centre.
On the talent front, MPA and Nanyang Technological University launched Singaporeʼs first local degree and post-graduate maritime programmes – Bachelor and Master of Science in Maritime Studies (Shipping) – to develop a highly-skilled local workforce at the graduate level, in line with increasing career opportunities in the maritime industry.
|2005||The official Singapore Electronic Navigational Chart was included in the Admiralty Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) Service of the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO). This marked a milestone in the development and promotion of ECDIS, which is extensively used for navigation today. The collaboration between MPA and UKHO over the years has boosted MPAʼs efforts in placing Singapore on the international podium as a safe port for navigation.|
|2006||In September 2006, MPA launched the inaugural Maritime Week, which brought together leading players from the maritime industry to discuss current developments and issues. About 3,000 local and overseas delegates attended the event.|
|2007||Singapore hosted a landmark meeting to launch the ground-breaking Co-operative Mechanism, a new framework for Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore to enhance navigational safety and environmental protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. The Mechanism, which implements Article 43 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, allows for regular dialogue and cooperation between the Littoral States, user States, and industry stakeholders from around the world.|
|2008||MPA established a new standard with SPRING Singapore – the Singapore Standard SS 600: 2008 - Code of Practice for Bunkering, which sets out guidelines and procedures to enhance the consistency of practices in delivery of bunkers or fuel for ships calling at the Port of Singapore. It was a boost to Singapore's position as a leader in the bunkering industry|
|2009||MPA and NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute launched a programme to encourage Singaporeans to join the harbour craft sector – for vessels that ply only within the waters of Singapore – by promoting employability and providing employment assistance. A total of 200 job vacancies for harbour craft trainee steersman were made available then over 2 years.|
|2010||MPA, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and the Singapore Economic Development Board announced the setup of the Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI) to support the growth of Singapore as an international maritime centre in 3 key areas: Maritime education, maritime policy research, and maritime research and development.|
|2011||MPA launched the S$100 million Maritime Singapore Green Initiative to emphasise and promote Singaporeʼs commitment to environmentally-friendly shipping. The initiative provides incentives to various maritime stakeholders who adopt energy-efficient ship designs and make an effort to reduce their environmental footprint.|
|2012||Then Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew announced the long-term plan to consolidate Singaporeʼs container port activities at Tuas. Because of its sheltered deep waters and proximity to both major industrial areas and international shipping routes, a port at Tuas would offer sufficient capacity for Singapore to meet the industry's longer term demands as a global hub port.|
|2013||The S$25 million Maritime Cluster Fund Productivity Programme was launched to support the industry's productivity efforts.|
|2014||The Port of Singapore became the first in the world to mandate the adoption of the mass flow metering system for bunkering with effect from 1 January 2017, which would improve transparency, increase productivity, and minimise illegal bunkering activities.|
|2015||The MPA Academy (MPAA) was launched. As the training arm of MPA, MPAA is a full-fledged academy with a focus on global maritime leadership training. The academyʼs mission includes enhancing the skills and knowledge of MPA officers and conducting leadership and training programmes for overseas port and maritime officials.|
|2016||The first caisson for the construction of Tuas Next-Generation Port was installed on 29 April 2016, marking the start of Phase 1 of its development. In total, 221 of such caissons – concrete-filled, box-like structures that are sunk beneath water bodies – will serve as a solid foundation for the terminal's wharf. When fully completed by the 2040s, Tuas Port will have a total handling capacity of up to 65 million twenty-foot standard-sized containers.|
|2017||MPA launched its first Smart Port Challenge, a 6-month programme for maritime start-ups, to help drive collaboration between organisations and start-ups in its push for digital transformation.|
In partnership with the industry, unions, and other government agencies, the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM) was launched to lay out MPAʼs long-term blueprint and key strategies for developing Singaporeʼs Tuas Next-Generation Port and strengthening its position as an international maritime centre.
Specific initiatives have been laid out under the Sea Transport ITM to catalyse innovation, drive productivity improvements, as well as enhance maritime jobs and skills. Support is also available for maritime companies to build their capabilities and networks and internationalise their operations.
|2019||A new national marine spatial data infrastructure known as GeoSpace-Sea was officially announced. Spearheaded by MPA and developed in collaboration with 11 other Singapore government agencies and institutes of higher learning, GeoSpace-Sea gathers and provides authoritative marine coastal geographical data and services to drive actionable insights and marine knowledge for various applications such as port, marine and coastal planning, and environmental management.|
With travel restrictions put in place by national health and immigration authorities amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the global maritime industry was faced with a host of challenges, such as seafarers being stranded on ships out at sea. Offering aid to ship crew, MPA worked closely with shipping industry, unions, and other government agencies to come up with safe and sustainable procedures on crew changes. It has facilitated more than 180,000 crew changes in the Port of Singapore since 27 March 2020.
A Crew Facilitation Centre using floating accommodations was set up at the Tanjong Pagar Terminal to facilitate more crew changes in Singapore, and to keep both the ships and local community safe. MPA and its partners also established the Singapore Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience (SG-STAR) Fund, the first global tripartite initiative of its kind, to work with stakeholders in seafaring nations on solutions for safe crew changes.
Reclamation works for the first phase of Tuas Port have been completed. This marks a major milestone for the MPA in developing Singapore’s next-generation port.
The project entailed soil improvement works for 414 hectares of land, including 294 hectares measuring 412 football fields of newly reclaimed land; the fabrication and installation of 221 10-storey tall caissons each weighing 15,000 tons to form 8.6km of seawall; and deepening of sea beds to cater for larger ships of the future. It involved a total of 34 million man hours, with the support of over 450 companies. Tuas Port Phase 1 has 21 deep-water berths that can handle 20 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) annually.