Shipping collisions earlier this year due to human error and poor judgement

Shipping collisions earlier this year due to human error and poor judgement
Capt M Segar, Assistant Chief Executive (Operations) MPA, speaking to the shipping community at the dialogue session

SINGAPORE - Human error and poor judgement of the situation were the main causes of the three collision incidents that resulted in oil spills which took place in the Singapore port waters and Singapore Strait earlier this year.

Following the three incidents, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) conducted investigations to determine the causes of these incidents.

The three collisions were between Fei He, a China-flagged containership, and Lime Galaxy, a Hong Kong-flagged chemical tanker on Jan 24, 2014, between NYK Themis, a Panama-flagged containership and a barge, AZ Fuzhou that was towed by tug "AZ Carnation" on Jan 30, and between a Liberia-flagged containership Hammonia Thracium and Panama-flagged chemical tanker Zoey on Feb 10.

MPA has also formed a Safety Review Committee (SRC) to review the overall system of navigational safety in Singapore's port waters and Singapore Strait. Members comprise experts from MPA, Ministry of Transport, the local academia and shipping industry.

Key findings

The findings of the investigations showed that human error and poor judgement of the situation was the main cause of the three collisions. There was lack of situational awareness of the bridge teams, including the pilots, although MPA's Port Operations Control Centre (POCC) had provided advisories and warnings of the traffic situation to the bridge teams.

The bridge teams also did not make use of all available means at their disposal, such as the Automatic Identification System (AIS), Automatic Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA), Radar, and Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) to avoid the collisions.

Appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken against the members of the bridge teams, including the pilots, for contravening the relevant regulations.

The SRC also reviewed the overall regime of navigational safety in Singapore's port limits.

The SRC found no significant increase in the number of incidents between 2007 and 2013, nor was there apparent correlation in the occurrence of incidents and growth in vessel movements in the Singapore Strait or port waters. The number of incidents over the last few years remained low and averaged about 0.012 and 0.016 per 1,000 vessel movements in the port waters and Singapore Strait respectively. The existing systems and procedures put in place by MPA have helped to keep the incident rates low.

Key follow-ups

The SRC has recommended adopting the following key measures to further enhance the safety of navigation in the port and in the Singapore Strait:

- Instilling a strong safety culture

MPA should work with the industry to develop an integrated safety management framework to drive the overall efforts to promote a strong culture of safety awareness, including the conduct of regular safety briefings to the shipping community.

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