Stay vigilant at sea during north-east monsoon season: MPA , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Stay vigilant at sea during north-east monsoon season: MPA

Members of the public are reminded to stay vigilant when travelling or engaging in recreational activities at sea during the north-east monsoon season, which started in the first-half of December and is expected to last until early-March 2024.

The monsoon brings about moderate to heavy rain, with possible strong winds, choppy seas and heavy swells that may increase risks of activities at sea. Under these conditions, there may also be poor visibility at sea.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said in a statement on Dec 15 that passengers and commuters travelling on ferries and marine vessels should practise safety habits like using handrails when embarking and remaining seated during the passage.

They should also wear life jackets when boarding and alighting from vessels at sea, as well as be careful when disembarking between marine vessels and landing steps.

For those taking part in recreational activities at sea such as canoeing, kayaking, sailing and windsurfing, they should wear appropriate personal flotation devices and ensure that the devices are in good working condition.

They should also check the weather forecast beforehand and if they decide to proceed with their activity, adhere to safety guidelines, know the emergency protocols and be equipped with appropriate safety equipment.

For port users, MPA reminded all owners, operators, ship masters and crew that their ships and cargoes must be properly secured for sea. The firefighting and life-saving equipment on board must also be in good working condition and in accordance with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (Solas) regulations.

During this monsoon period, MPA will also conduct more spot checks on ferries, harbour craft and pleasure craft to inspect the general condition of the vessels as well as operators’ familiarity with emergency procedures and the state of firefighting and life-saving equipment on board, among other checks.

MPA’s port master, Captain Chong Jia Chyuan, said: “Safety at sea is a collective effort. Members of the public and pleasure craft community engaging in recreational activities at sea must prioritise personal safety and have the appropriate safety equipment, training and understanding of the safety procedures when conducting those activities.

“Port users must remain vigilant when conducting operations or at anchor, as the weather and sea conditions may intensify during the monsoon season.”

MPA said it is working with the National Maritime Safety at Sea Council – which serves as an advisory body to MPA on maritime safety matters – to develop and train community volunteers to complement government agencies’ search and rescue efforts within Singapore waters.

Council chairman Ishak Ismail said: “Safe practices at sea is not just a matter of compliance, but a responsibility that we owe to ourselves, our crew, and our loved ones.”

MPA said it is also working with the Singapore Canoe Federation, Sentosa Development Corporation and interest groups to review the safety measures of recreational activities off the waters at Sentosa and other areas with potentially higher risk.

While equipment rental operators are to ensure that pre-activity safety briefs are conducted, MPA will also step up its patrols and surveillance of the open waters off Sentosa during this monsoon period.