Singapore: Life Raft Failures Prompt New Safety Focus
The Singapore MPA has finalized its investigation report into the grounding of the Indonesian-registered passenger ferry Sea Prince, sparking a range of initiatives to improve safety standards for regional ferries.
At about 7.50 pm on November 29, 2015, the Indonesian registered, Batamfast passenger ferry Sea Prince ran aground at about 0.24 nautical miles (444 meters), northwest of Nongsa, Indonesia.
The vessel was en route from Nongsapura Ferry Terminal, Batam, to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, Singapore.
Investigation revealed that the Master of Sea Prince had deviated from his original planned route after leaving the demarcated navigational channel and went aground. Due to the grounding, Sea Prince sustained damages that immobilized the engines and resulted in flooding of the steering gear room.
Two inflatable life rafts were launched for evacuation of passengers, but the first life raft deflated slowly while the second life raft began to take in water. There were no serious injuries or pollution reported.
The investigation revealed that the primary causal factor was that the Master, without tenable and valid safety reason, altered the heading of Sea Prince towards Singapore prematurely (taking a shorter route) and not following the approved passage plan.
The failure of both life rafts, in particular, the second life raft was due to broken rubberized compound connecting the one-way safety valve tube to the buoyancy unit. These life rafts were last inspected by a life raft service station in Batam, and the inspection was not carried out in accordance with the recommendations in IMO Resolution A.761 (18) – servicing intervals for a 20-year old life raft.
Following the incident, MPA has issued Batamfast Private Limited a warning advisory to improve its Safety Management System and has not allowed the Master to operate on regional ferries.
MPA also took immediate actions to enhance the safety standards of regional ferries. Inspections on all regional ferries have been stepped up. These include conducting more spot checks when the ferries are at the ferry terminals especially during peak periods and more detailed inspections on Singapore-registered ferries in between their annual surveys for the renewal of Passenger Ship Safety Certificates.
To increase the safety standards of ferry operators, MPA conducted regular safety briefings and has formed a safety working group with the Association of Regional Ferry Operators.
MPA has also met up with the Batam Authorities to strengthen standard operating procedures.
Moving forward, MPA will be making it mandatory for Singapore ferries to have their life rafts serviced by MPA-approved or recognized life raft service stations and imposing age limit on life rafts for Singapore and Indonesia ferries operating in local waters.