Singapore says anchorages not dangerously blocked

May 20, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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LLoyd’s List

The Singapore authorities have hit out again over reports that its port waters are dangerously congested with idle ships.

The Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore stated that while the port’s anchorages are busy they are not overcrowded, but took aim at owners anchoring vessels outside port limits (OPL).

MPA group director M Segar said there were 400 to 500 vessels anchored in port daily, which while higher than last year, was only about a 65% utilisation rate.

Capt Segar stated that 95% of the ships are anchored for less than 10 days and repeated earlier statements by the port authority that there are no laid-up ships in Singapore port waters.

“There have been no lay ups in our port, and our port dues are structured to actively discourage laying up in our port,” he said.

According to the MPA, the number of reported incidents at port anchorages so far this year was nine, the same as the previous year.

However, the MPA warned on the risk to navigational safety caused by around 150 ships anchored OPL. Singapore’s eastern and western OPL anchorages are thin strips between the edge of the port waters and the traffic separation scheme, which are popular with owners as they do not have to pay port dues.

Where vessels have strayed into the traffic separation scheme (TSS), the MPA has been taking action.

“For ships anchored in the TSS of the Singapore Straits, the Singapore vessel traffic system actively reports them to their respective flag administrations, and also ship owners where possible, for appropriate action as these ships are violating the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea,” Capt Segar said.

However, the MPA noted that most vessels anchored OPL were not in the TSS but anchored “indsicriminately”.

“The Singapore vessel traffic system actively advises these ships against doing so, as such indiscriminate anchoring poses a risk to navigational safety, even though they are outside the TSS,” he said.

An increase in incidents OPL was noted this year with 16 minor incidents so far this year, four more than the same period last year.

“For areas beyond our port waters, we urge shipowners and flag states to take serious action against errant shipmasters who anchor their ships indiscriminately there, so as to help reduce the navigational risks in these locations,” Capt Segar said.

“We will also be working with Malaysia and Indonesia to address this issue at the International Maritime Organization.”

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