The Maritime Industry in Singapore – Past, Present, and Future

The Port of Singapore has an illustrious history. Established in the 1800s, it was and is still an economic boon of Singapore. In the present day, businesses in Singapore and around the world can now import, export and tranship oil and gas, offshore and marine-related cargo, and also tranship sea-stores upon the facilitation of the Singapore Customs.

Singapore’s Illustrious Maritime History

It all started in 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles arrived and established modern Singapore as a free port which soon became a bustling centre for trade. According to PSA Singapore, in 1982, Singapore became the world’s busiest port by shipping tonnage, achieving one million TEUs a year for the first time. The shipping industry went to further heights in 1990, crossing five million TEUS mark in a year and becoming the world’s largest container port for the first time. Four years later, Singapore achieved 10 million TEUs in a year and later continued to grow by establishing its first overseas project in China.

Singapore – The Globally-Renowned Maritime Hub

Singapore is known to be a leading centre for ship repair, and its other key activities include building of marine vessels and offshore structures, vessel design and engineering and marine equipment and services. The nation has also become a strategic centre for maritime business. With its excellent reputation in the maritime and shipping industry, coupled with sophisticated port facilities, shipyards and various services, Singapore has developed into an International Maritime Centre (IMC) where ships convene and also where services in shipping, commerce and logistics flourish.

Pledging Commitment Sustainable Maritime Practices

2014 saw maritime organisations demonstrating their commitment towards sustainability and green shipping in Singapore. According to the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), since the launch of the Maritime Singapore Green Pledge in 2011, a total of 90 companies have pledged their commitment towards promoting clean and green shipping in Singapore, and employ an array of solutions in their efforts to go green, ranging from environmental management technology to green design initiatives for vessels and infrastructure. Close to 2,900 vessel calls have enjoyed port dues concessions under the Green Port Programme and S$17 million of co-funding has been approved under the Green Technology Programme.

Progressing through Research & Development

Singapore’s marine sector is constantly striving for industry improvements, and this is done through active research & development (R&D) efforts. The government has built marine and offshore infrastructure to support these initiatives

Maritime Research Centre (MRC) The MRC is a centre for R&D in maritime technology jointly set up by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). MRC was established in 2001 and aims to initiate and undertake research to develop technologies and IT applications in the port and maritime field.
Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) TSMI aims to promote integrated marine science in R&D as well as establish itself as a regional and international education and training institute.
Centre of Innovation – Marine & Offshore Technology (CoI) The CoI aims to provide technology consultancy to develop practical and downstream technology platforms for SMEs in the marine industry.
The Marine Group Local Industry Programme (LIUP) Supported by the EDB, the LUIP strives to promote positive relationships between customers and local suppliers, develop a stronger marine cluster as well as core competencies and capabilities.
Centre for Offshore Research and Engineering (CORE) Set up by the EDB, CORE aims to promote and coordinate R&D and develop manpower for Singapore’s offshore engineering industry.

Last year, the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), a leading provider of global marine and offshore classification services and MPA signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to promote maritime research and development (R&D) and innovation. This MOU will see ABS and MPA collaborating on maritime R&D in the areas of alternative/clean fuel and developing resilient, next generation port systems. The agreement also builds upon the ABS-MPA Maritime Technology Professorship programme at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) to strengthen SUTD's capabilities in maritime education and R&D to further boost the growth of marine and offshore technology development in Singapore.

What Lies Ahead

Over the past few decades, shipyards in Singapore have gained recognition for their excellent quality and services. With its strategic location, world-class infrastructure and consistent R&D efforts, Singapore’s marine industry is set to soar to even greater heights.

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