(EnergyAsia, July 29 2011, Friday) — Singapore, the world’s busiest port by vessel arrival tonnage, has launched a new operations centre to further raise the bar on navigational safety and security to support the region’s maritime trade.

The official opening this week of the new Port Operations Control Centre (POCC) in Changi on the western end of the island will enable Singapore to handle the significant growth in maritime traffic along the Straits of Malacca, which carries about a third of the world’s traded goods.

The government has invested a total of S$25.4 million in the POCC-Changi centre and in upgrading the existing POCC-Vista centre to ensure that its infrastructure continue to provide safe and efficient operation for users of Singapore’s port, said Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, Lui Tuck Yew. (US$1=S$1.2).

The POCC is at the core of Singapore’s latest navigational safety measures as its state-of-the-art Vessel Traffic Information Service (VTIS) technology is set to play a crucial role in protecting the local and regional maritime environment.

Vessel traffic management operators responsible for ensuring traffic safety through Singapore’s port waters will be able to operate more effectively as they now have access to a system that integrates information flow from separate sources, including a closed-circuit television system (CCTV). The new system can track up to 10,000 vessels at one time, twice the capacity of the existing VTIS, and boasts enhanced vessel monitoring functions.

Sharper eyes on ship traffic are crucial because Singapore has about 1,000 vessels docked at its terminals at any one time, with a ship leaving or arriving every three or four minutes. The new VTIS system, designed by Norwegian developers, Kornsberg, can also detect smaller vessels such as leisure craft.

Three years in the making, the new POCC-Changi is Singapore’s third POCC and will eventually replace the existing unit at Tanjong Pagar Complex.

The new VTIS is also able to pull together information from various sources including radars, automatic identification system (AIS), harbour craft transponders, CCTVs and ship databases to present a comprehensive sea situation picture to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore’s (MPA) Vessel Traffic Management (VTM) operators on high-resolution displays.

Enhanced monitoring functions also assist the VTM operators in detecting potential collisions and grounding situations, so as to facilitate timely warnings to ships.

Stressing the importance of the POCC-Changi system to regional seafaring security, Mr Lui said:

“Singapore sits strategically on the crossroads of trade between Asia and Europe. We have the world’s busiest port by vessel arrival tonnage with more than 127,000 vessels totaling 1.92 billion gross tons calling at our port last year.”

The Straits of Malacca, which covers the deep-sea borders of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, is the world’s second busiest shipping channel after the English Channel, and the second most popular oil tanker route after the Straits of Hormuz in the Middle East. Over 30% of the world’s oil delivered by sea passes through the Straits of Malacca en route to East Asia.