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MPA to facilitate use of drones for ship surveys

Assembling the drone in a ship office.

A drone making a sweep across the internal structures in the cargo hold of a ship.

THE Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is working on an acceptance criteria for the use of remote inspection techniques in ship surveys, in particular aerial drones.

This acceptance criteria for Singapore-registered ships will likely be rolled out in the first quarter next year, said MPA chief executive Andrew Tan.

Speaking at the Singapore Registry of Ships (SRS) Forum on Friday, Mr Tan said MPA has already been conducting several trials using aerial drones for ship surveys.

"Such methods of remote inspection are safer because marine surveyors do not have to put themselves in precarious positions onboard the ship to conduct inspections," he noted.

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"The use of drones also reduces man hours and costs for ship owners - it is a win-win situation for all."

The use of remote inspection methods was just one of a slew of service enhancements unveiled at the forum set to benefit more than 4,600 ships flying the Singapore flag.

By the end of the year, MPA will issue e-certificates (e-certs) directly to Singapore-registered ships, in addition to those issued by recognised organisations. This will place Singapore among the first flag administrations in Asia to issue e-certs, which help to save time and costs.

MPA has also expanded Marinet, its Internet-based e-commerce system, to include two new online services: the application for ship registration and appointment of manager form; and the application for various documents issued by SRS.

In addition, owners, managers and operators of Singapore-registered ships are now able to call MPA's new 24/7 customer service hotline for urgent cases relating to crewing, registry and technical matters.

Mr Tan noted that the Internet of Things, digitalisation and new technologies such as blockchain and smart drones are changing the way the world works.

"To stay ahead, the Singapore Registry of Ships needs to embrace these technologies to offer value-added services to its customer," he said.

"As a responsible flag administration, we will continue to find new ways to promote clean, efficient and sustainable shipping."

At the event, MPA also inked a memorandum of understanding with Global Network Compact Singapore to encourage more maritime companies to comply with the Singapore Exchange (SGX) mandatory sustainability reporting requirements.

The agreement seeks to provide Singapore-incorporated maritime companies listed on the SGX with training on sustainability reporting, and is expected to benefit about 43 firms.