The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) held a ferry emergency exercise (FEREX) at the Regional Ferry Terminal (RFT) at Harbourfront. This FEREX tests the readiness of around 250 personnel from 10 government agencies, three ferry operators and Singapore Cruise Centre Pte Ltd in response to ferry mishaps. A total of 13 vessels and an RSAF helicopter were deployed for the exercise. (See Annex for list of participating organisations). Mr Khaw Boon Wan, Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport, was also present to observe the exercise.
The exercise simulated the evacuation of 150 passengers on board a regional ferry, and for the first time, a medical evacuation was conducted. The scenario was a ferry accident that took place in the waters near Kusu Island, while the ferry was en route from Batam to Singapore:
- The ferry collided with a large underwater object and started flooding on board.
- Two passengers panicked and jumped overboard. A search and rescue operation was conducted.
- Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and MPA transferred the remaining passengers from life rafts onto their vessels, which included SCDF’s Heavy Rescue Vessel.
- A Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) AS332 Super Puma helicopter evacuated passengers who were critically injured from SCDF’s Heavy Rescue Vessel.
Besides testing agencies’ coordination, MPA also deployed new technologies to enhance overall situational awareness and contingency responses. These included the use of remotely piloted water rescue lifebuoys which could be steered directly towards passengers in the water, as well as ‘live’ streaming of the incident site through camera-mounted drones, CCTVs installed onboard the ferry, and SMART glasses worn by the On-Scene Commander.
This FEREX follows a table-top exercise, held on 21 August 2019, to test the activation and notification procedures, as well as strategic operational decision-making process in the handling of ferry mishaps.
Captain Daknashamoorthy Ganasen, Director of Operations and Marine Services at MPA, said, “It is important to conduct a ferry emergency exercise annually to test the coordination and operational readiness of our agencies. We have had the opportunity to deploy and test new technologies at FEREX 2019 to enhance rescue efforts. Through this exercise, MPA hopes that it enhances contingency preparedness of the participating agencies, and more importantly, will raise situational awareness of ferry passengers.”