Van Oord Dredger Hits Bunker Tanker, Spilling Oil in Singapore's Harbor

Damage to the bunker tanker Marine Honour (MPA Singapore)
Damage to the bunker tanker Marine Honour (MPA Singapore)

Published Jun 16, 2024 2:37 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Friday, a dredger struck a bunker tanker at the port of Singapore, leading to a substantial spill. At about 1440 hours local time, the Van Oord-operated dredger Vox Maxima allided with the berthed bunker tanker Marine Honour at the Pasir Panjang Terminal, tearing open its hull amidships on the starboard side.

The Vox Maxima reported a loss of propulsion and steering control just before the casualty, according to Singapore's Maritime and Port Authority (MPA). In a statement, Van Oord said that both vessels were safely anchored and stable, and that no personnel injuries have been reported. 

One cargo tank aboard the bunker tanker was breached, releasing fuel oil into the water, and the tidal current carried the slick towards shore. Oil reached the waterfront at the island of Sentosa, a popular resort and casino destination for vacation-goers. Beachfront areas at Sentosa, the Labrador Nature Reserve, Southern Islands are affected, and selected areas have been closed off as cleanup gets under way. Professional work crews are already removing oiled sand from the waterfront. 

On the water side, more than a dozen vessels are engaged in containment and cleanup efforts, and the Singaporean authorities are using dispersants to minimize the effects of the pollution on land. More than a kilometer of boom has been laid out, and more will be installed in the days to come in order to keep the oil off the beaches, the MPA said in a statement. Additional boom will be used to keep the oil that has reached shore from drifting back out to sea again. 

Local environmental NGO Marine Stewards advised that the best thing for local residents to do is to stay away from the oil for health and safety reasons. The organization is collecting public reports on wildlife impacts, and more than a thousand people have signed up to help survey the shoreline, according to partner NGO Friends of the Marine Park. Limited wildlife oiling has been reported. 

The MPA has set up an operations center for its staff and personnel from key stakeholders, and an official investigation is expected soon. 

"We are cooperating with the investigations by the authorities. As long as investigations are ongoing, we can’t provide any further substantive information in the interests of the investigations," Van Oord said.