Batam-Singapore ferry accident: Ferry ran aground after taking shortcut, MPA says

Loke Kok Fai Channel NewsAsia 1 Sep 16;

SINGAPORE: A Batam passenger ferry heading to Singapore ran aground last year after taking a shortcut, the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) said on Thursday (Sep 1).

The Indonesia-registered ferry “Sea Prince” was previously reported to have hit a floating object after leaving the Nongsapura ferry terminal in Batam. A total of 97 people, including 51 Singaporeans, had to be rescued.

“The captain had taken a detour, taken a shortcut, which led to the grounding of the vessel which then took in water. And the life-rafts – two of the three did not inflate properly,” said MPA chief executive Andrew Tan in response to questions from Channel NewsAsia.

He added the MPA has shared its preliminary findings into the incident with its Indonesian counterparts, and is working with the ferry operator on areas of improvement. On its part, the MPA has stepped up detailed inspections from 16 times a year to 45 times a year. Ferries with greater lapses will also be inspected more often.

“We’ve formed a working group with the ferry association to look at further improvements to the whole system itself. So we’re taking seriously this subject of safety, and we hope to see more improvements made in the coming months.”

Mr Tan was speaking on the sidelines of this year’s FEREX exercise – a drill involving a simulated collision between two passenger ferries. The exercise involved more than 15 craft and 450 personnel from 15 agencies, including the Singapore Civil Defence Force, the Health Ministry and the Police Coast Guard, and aimed to test their readiness in ferry mishaps.

This included the deployment of resources at sea for evacuation and rescue operations, manning of the emergency operations centre at MPA’s Port Operations Control Centre, and the landing of casualties and rescued persons at HarbourFront Centre Terminal.

The exercise was observed by Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, maritime safety agencies from Europe, Asia and Small Island Developing States, and the International Ferry Safety Association among others.

- CNA/cy