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Congested water navigation- Increased risk of collision off Singapore-Navigational guideline for cargo ships

Vessels are transiting through, or anchoring in, the territorial waters of Singapore, including the Eastern and Western outer port limit (OPL) anchorages of Singapore, are urged to be especially careful in the avoidance of collisions with other ships. An increased risk of collisions in this area where there has been a considerable accumulation of vessels are lying at anchor.

It would appear that the most recent spate of collisions has occurred at the Eastern OPL anchorage, where several ships maneuvering within the area have collided with vessels already at anchor. Evidence suggests that the collisions have, for the most part, occurred due to the maneuvering vesselís failure to correctly estimate the strength and direction of the local tidal currents. Besides, in the case of unexpected weather changes involving thunderstorms, etc., there have also been contacts between vessels already lying at anchor.

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Experts familiar with these circumstances suggest that caution should be used in selecting a suitable location to anchor, with due regard to the proximity of other anchored vessels, the strength, and direction of prevailing tidal currents and the speed and direction of the wind at the time maneuvering take place. While a vessel is at anchor, it is advised that a full anchor watch should be maintained at all times, with the vesselís engines being kept in an appropriate state of readiness. It is also suggested that bridge watchkeeper(s) should not be distracted from their duties by other work at that time.

The congestion at Singapore has become a matter of considerable anecdotal comment Ė not least for those flying into Changi Airport on certain approaches which are best able to see with their own eyes the multitude of vessels anchored in the areas in question! The area around Singapore has traditionally been one of the busiest in the shipping world due to large numbers of vessels transiting the straits or calling at the port. It is common to see a large number of vessels anchored off the port, many of them outside port limits to the east and west of the island.

Container ship loaded condition

Anchoring in non designated areas can be extremely dangerous and cause considerable risks to traffic moving around in this busy seaway. The area between the outer port limits and the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) is quite small. Some vessels have drifted or anchored too near or inside the TSS as the area has filled with ships. Vessels found to be anchored in the TSS risk being boarded by officers of the Singapore MPA, reported to Flag state and named on the regular Navtex warnings. It is to consider anchorages carefully in this area and if any doubts to contact the local correspondent or port authority, vessels should anchor in designated anchorages and ensure that they are not obstructing the TSS or other local hazards.

Other notable areas for congested waters around the world

The following areas are suggested to be considered as Congested Waters:
  1. The Japan Coast Including Osumi Kaikyo & Tsugaru Kaikyo
  2. Taiwan Strait
  3. Singapore Straits (including 20nm NE of Horsburgh) and Malacca Straits (including 20nm NW of One Fathom Bank)
  4. Strait of Bab-El-Mandeb
  5. Gulf of Suez (Including Strait of Gubal)
  6. Gibraltar Strait (including 20 nm either side of Europa Point)
  7. The English Channel (Including TSS off Ushant)
  8. Dover Strait
  9. Maas Approach
  10. TSS off Texel & Vlieland
  11. Areas of Heavy Fishing Traffic (e.g. East Coast of China)
  12. Any other area where heavy traffic is encountered

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