Navigation safety and environmental protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore could further improve following a detailed investigation into accident reports by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). ICS (as part of a wider initiative being undertaken by the Round Table of international shipping associations) has conducted a survey of incident reports which it is anticipated will result in the development of agreed proposals to enhance the management of traffic in the Straits. With more than 70,000 vessels each year (over 150 a day) transiting this strategically important international waterway, ICS believes it is imperative that safety continues to be prioritised. While only a very small proportion of these transits result in accidents or near misses, the ICS survey has identified heavy shipping traffic inappropriate speed and the loss of situational awareness as significant factors that need to be addressed. The ICS report praises the skill and professionalism of those managing, operating and navigating ships in the Malacca and Singapore Straits. However, ICS suggests that mprovements could be made to the location of pilot boarding areas and the timing of pilot departures. There is also concern about the understanding and use of navigation systems such as ECDIS, AIS and radar, both at sea and ashore.
Of the incidents examined, 68% resulted in collisions and all could have potentially caused harm or pollution incidents. The incidents involved a range of vessels from tugs to tankers. The report recommends the littoral States consider how to address:
• Speed management in the Singapore Straits
• Heavy traffic around pilot boarding areas
• Optimum pilot departure times
• Improved VTS/VTIS interaction with shipping
• Situational awareness
• Pilot, tug, berth availability integration.
ICS met with the littoral States of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, in Kuala Lumpur last week, to present the report’s findings. ICS Director Marine, John Murray commented: “The littoral States welcomed the report and we were pleased to hear that measures are already being taken to further improve navigational services in the Straits.” “Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to forward additional accident reports to further enhance the ICS study’s findings, particularly in relation to the Malacca Straits. Singapore will be sending information on measures it has already taken to improve navigational services in relation to the Singapore Straits, which ICS will review by conducting a gap analysis in order to identify remaining safety proposals.”