Study aims to boost strait safety 

To increase safety in one of the world’s busiest waterways, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia have signed an agreement to more accurately map the Straits of Malacca and waters around the Lion City. 

Phase two of a joint hydrographic survey was launched after the signing of a memorandum of understanding in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, at the 10th Cooperation Forum on the straits’ safety of navigation and environmental protection.

The second phase will cover the remaining areas that are shallower than 30 metres, following on from the initial 2015 study.

It was reported that the straits saw 84,000 journeys last year.

The data would be used to produce detailed nautical charts for the Straits of Malacca and Singaporean waters, said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

This survey was also supported by the Malacca Strait Council of Japan, whose president Tatsuhiko Miyazaki, signed the deal.

The issue has come under increased scrutiny since

Dredger JBB De Rong 19 and tanker Kartika Segara collided off Sisters’ Islands on September 13. On August 21, the USS John S McCain and the Liberian-registered oil tanker Alnic MC crashed off Pedra Branca.

Malaysia says navigation and protection in its waters will be safer with its new multipurpose vessel named MV Polaris.

It was built in response to the “Feasibility Study on the Emergency Towing Vessel Services in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore”.

“The vessel is now ready to render assistance to vessels in distress,” said Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi told the event, adding that it could be used throughout Malaysia’s waters.

“These waters see more than 130,000 vessels passing through every year. It is a major east-west shipping lane where a quarter of all oil shipments are transported annually,” Abd Aziz added.

Malaysia has received a US$6 million fund to manage security and environment in the straits as it was the country’s turn to host the Aids of Navigation Funds for three years.

The fund comes from other user states for the maintenance of navigational aids in the waterway.

More than US$20 million had been collected since 2008 from Japan, Australia, China, Greece, Germany, the United States, Saudi Arabia and other countries.

The busy Straits of Malacca. Picture credit: Flickr