Robert Beckman

Document Type



This Article first examines the efforts of the port-city of Singapore to enhance safety and to prevent ship-source pollution in its port and waters by adopting and effectively implementing the international rules and standards established in the conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). It then reviews the measures taken by Singapore since 2002 to enhance security in its port and its surrounding waters. This is followed by an examination of how Singapore has worked together with Indonesia and Malaysia to enhance safety, security, and environmental protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. Finally, it considers what additional cooperative measures may be necessary to enhance maritime security and minimize the threat of ship-source pollution in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. The efforts of Singapore to enhance safety, security, and environmental protection in its port and waters cannot be understood without a basic comprehension of Singapore’s geography and the importance of shipping to its economy. Singapore is a small city-state in Southeast Asia. At the end of 2007, its total population was approximately 4.6 million, of which about 3.6 million were citizens or permanent residents. Singapore was founded by the British as a treaty port and became independent in 1965. It consists of one main island and several nearby smaller islands. Its total land area is about 682.7 square kilometers. It has about 193 kilometers of coastline and its sea area is less than ten square kilometers. Singapore is located at the end of the Malay Peninsula and at the southern end of the Malacca Strait, which lies between the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the peninsula of Malaysia, and is approximately 500 miles in length. To the north, Singapore is separated from the State of Johor in Malaysia by the Johor Strait, which is thirty miles long and ranges from three-quarters of a mile to three miles in width. To the south, Singapore is separated from the Riau Islands of Indonesia by the Singapore Strait, which runs for fifty miles from the end of the Malacca Strait in the west to the South China Sea in the east. The Singapore Strait is about ten miles wide but it narrows to less than one mile at Philips Channel near Singapore. The Malacca Strait and the Singapore Strait are connected. They are treated by the three littoral States of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, and by the IMO, as a single strait, which is referred to as the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. The Straits of Malacca and Singapore is one of the busiest and most important straits in the world. It is on the main shipping route between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, and it is vitally important for trade and commerce between Europe, the Middle East, and India to the west, and China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia to the east. More than 60,000 vessels pass through the Straits annually, carrying half the world’s oil flows and one-third of the world’s sea-borne trade. Singapore’s strategic location and natural deep-water harbor have enabled it to develop its port and transform the city into a global sea transportation hub. More than 200 shipping lines call on Singapore, and on an average day there are approximately 1000 ships in port. As an international maritime center, Singapore offers a full range of maritime services, including cargo handling, bunkering, professional ship management and shipbroking services, and international legal and arbitration expertise. Singapore has consistently ranked as the world’s busiest container port. It is also a major importer of oil, a major oil refining center, and one of the world’s largest bunkering ports. Singapore has major maritime interests as a flag State and as a port State. The number of ships under the Singapore registry has increased steadily in recent years and the registry is now ranked in the top ten of the world’s largest ship registries. The maritime sector is a key sector of the Singapore economy. It is estimated that there are more than 5000 maritime companies and organizations in Singapore, employing close to 100,000 persons, and that the maritime sector contributes approximately seven percent of Singapore’s gross domestic product. Given the importance of the maritime sector to Singapore’s economy, the safe and secure passage of ships through the Straits of Malacca and Singapore is vital to its national interests. Singapore has also made a serious effort to balance environmental and developmental matters, while protecting its coastal and marine areas from all sources of pollution. It has a very strong interest in ensuring that ships entering its port and passing through its waters comply with international standards on ship-source pollution.



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