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MPA Singapore enhancing digital services and developing acceptance criteria for drone inspection of ships

Above photo: MPA Chief Executive, Andrew Tan, giving his opening address at the SRS Forum 2017/ Credit: MPA

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is introducing service enhancements, which will benefit more than 4,600 ships flying the Singapore flag.

These initiatives were announced by Chief Executive of MPA, Mr Andrew Tan, at the Singapore Registry of Ships (SRS) Forum today. Themed "Innovation in Challenging Times", this year's SRS Forum focuses on how companies could leverage on innovative practices such as Blockchain and e-certification to improve work processes.

Mr Andrew Tan said, "IoT, digitalisation and new technologies such as blockchain and smart drones are changing the way we work. To stay ahead, the Singapore Registry of Ships needs to embrace these technologies to offer value-added services to its customer. As a responsible flag administration, we will continue to find new ways to promote clean, efficient and sustainable shipping."

E-certs and expansion of Marinet online services

Currently, MPA authorises Recognised Organisations (ROs) to issue electronic certificates (E-Certs) to Singapore-registered ships. By end of this year, in addition to E-Certs issued by ROs, MPA will also issue e-certificates directly to Singapore-registered ships.

The use of E-Certs will save time and costs. It reduces the need for hard copies, allows for instantaneous and simultaneous transmissions of documents as well as reduce the risk of fraud.

Singapore will be among the first Flag Administrations in Asia to issue E-Certs. Before E-Certs, hard copies of over two dozen certificates such as Certificate of Registry, Safe Manning Certificate and Load Line Certificates among others, are kept on board ships to provide proof that the vessels are compliant with the various regulations or conventions applicable to them.

Converting the hardcopy certificates to E-Certs reduces the manpower and financial commitments in the preparation, printing and delivery of these certificates.

Earlier this year in April, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the Danish Maritime Authority (DMA), MPA, and the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) for mutual recognition of E-Certificates.

In addition, MPA has also expanded the Marinet to include two new online services, namely application for ship registration and appointment of manager form, as well as application for various documents issued by SRS. The expansion will provide timely issuance of certificate/declaration to the vessel.

(Marinet is an Internet-based e-commerce system owned by MPA. Using Marinet, members of the maritime community can submit statutory declarations, process crew manning related documents, request for port services, obtain approvals, apply permits, obtain critical business information.)

Acceptance criteria for remote inspection of ships

New technologies such as aerial drones armed with cameras and ship inspecting robots are increasingly being used for ship surveys. Such methods of remote inspection are safer and can save time and cost for ship-owners by eliminating the need for traditional method of survey such as erecting staging in the cargo tanks. Marine surveyors also do not have to risk their lives by having to climb high places or be exposed to adverse conditions to check for defects.

Following several trials using drones to survey cargo tanks of ships, MPA is developing the acceptance criteria for the usage of such remote inspection techniques on board Singapore-registered ships. The acceptance criteria will be ready by first quarter next year.

Promoting sustainable shipping

To encourage more maritime companies comply with the Singapore Stock Exchange’s (SGX) mandatory sustainability reporting requirements, a MOU was signed at the forum by Mr Andrew Tan and Mr Wilson Ang, Executive Director of GCNS (Global Compact Network Singapore).

The MOU seeks to provide Singapore-incorporated maritime companies listed on SGX with training on sustainability reporting, organise a CEO/CFO Roundtable of which the discussion will be compiled into a Maritime Sustainability/Integrated Reporting Guidelines and launch a MPA-sponsored award in the GCNS Singapore Apex Corporate Sustainability Award. About 43 maritime companies are expected to benefit from the training.

(As part of the United Nations Global Compact network, GCNS encourages and facilitates the progress of companies that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with UNGC’s 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption at the country level.)

The forum also saw MPA’s Green Ship certificates presented to 78 Green Ships from 48 companies. The Green Ship Certification Programme (GSP) encourages Singapore-flagged ships to reduce carbon dioxide and sulphur oxides emissions. Qualifying Singapore-flagged ships can enjoy a reduction of Initial Registration Fees and a rebate on Annual Tonnage Tax. Since the GSP's inception in 2011, 410 Green Ships under the Singapore Flag have joined the programme.

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