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Chee Hong Tat’s clarification on oil spill response contradicts his 2020 statement on the use of booms

During a press conference on 24 June, Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat explained that containment booms were to prevent further spillage, not “fence in” the spilled oil. This contradicts his 2020 statement that next-generation patrol craft could swiftly deploy booms to contain spills.



During a press conference on 24 June on the oil spill from the Singapore-flagged bunker vessel Marine Honour after a Netherlands-flagged dredger struck it on 14 June, Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat explained that deploying containment booms were not meant to “fence in” the spilt oil but rather served as a preventive measure against any further spillage from the damaged vessel.

This was in response to questions from a reporter about why there was no initial information in the first press release on 14 June regarding the possible spread of the oil, which led to some surprise among the public when oil washed ashore later.

The reporter also queried the Minister whether there is room for improvement in the deployment time of containment booms during such oil spills, given the critical need for a quick response.

Mr Chee defended the response times of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and its contractor, T&T Salvage Asia, stating that they adhere to international industry standards.

He emphasized that upon discovering the oil spill, the immediate priority was to prevent further leakage from Marine Honour. This involved ensuring the vessel’s stability and safety, securing the crew, and halting any ongoing oil release from the damaged tank.

“Because if you have oil that continues to come out in large amounts from the vessel, I think that will make the situation even worse,” he stated. He emphasized the urgency of promptly applying dispersants to prevent the oil from hardening, which would complicate cleanup efforts both at sea and on land.

The first MPA patrol craft arrived 11 minutes after the incident at 2:33 pm to spray dispersants in the water.

Following the initial response operations, at 2:55 pm, MPA contacted T&T Salvage Asia to deploy containment booms around the damaged bunker vessel.

Mr Chee said the team from T&T Salvage required several hours to load the heavy equipment and additional time to sail to the site. Their boat arrived at the site at 9:41 pm.

They completed laying 200m of booms around Marine Honour at 5:15 am on 15 June – nearly 15 hours after the incident.

He explained that the deployment process can be time-consuming due to various factors such as weather conditions (daytime versus nighttime operations) and the logistical challenge of handling a spill of this scale.

“Deploying the containment boom around the damaged vessel will take several hours, including the time for the vessel to arrive at the incident site and the time taken to fully deploy the booms,” said Mr Chee.

“During this time, we must expect a significant amount of the oil that has been spilt into the sea to be carried by tidal currents and waves to other locations away from the incident site. This is unavoidable, especially during more serious oil spill incidents, like what we experienced on 14 June.” Mr Chee added that while containment booms can capture some oil near the incident site, they are not foolproof against tidal movements which can carry oil both below and above the booms.

However,  Mr Chee’s statement on the purpose of setting up oil booms somewhat contradicts what he previously said back in 2020 when the MPA held a joint exercise to address oil spills and revealed the next-generation patrol craft of MPA — a S$12.2 million project which was designed and built by Penguin International.

In a report by Straits Times, it was said that the next-generation patrol craft sprung into action once they reached the scene, swiftly setting up portable water booms around the “oil spill” to prevent it from spreading, and deploying spraying systems to break up the oil particles.

The oil spill exercise enabled the new vessels, launched in August 2020, to demonstrate their ability to manage such incidents more efficiently.

For example, one such vessel is able to deploy the water booms to contain the oil spill within half an hour.

Previously, this process could have taken four to eight hours, said Mr Chee, who attended the exercise and was then Senior Minister of State for Transport and Foreign Affairs.

Speaking to the media after the exercise, he said: “That is a good first response to allow MPA, when they arrive on site, to be able to contain the oil spill before further reinforcements are called upon.”

Perhaps Mr Chee used the word “fence-in” in the press conference to avoid directly contradicting his previous statements about containing the oil spill. But seriously, is there any difference between the two terms?

As for the MPA’s next-generation patrol craft, it is puzzling why booms were not put up by the MPA patrol craft, which arrived 11 minutes after the allision of the two vessels, but instead waited for the contractor to arrive 7 hours after the incident to deploy the booms, resulting in a total of 15 hours before the oil spill could be contained on site.

This is especially surprising since booms were part of the patrol craft’s capabilities, as indicated in its tender specs in 2019 and touted in 2020.

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He’s not ready for the job.

Only the deaf and dumb will buy your fables. After your previous BS statement, you should have just stay quiet and graciously bow out but NO you went and poured more BS to cover up an existing lie. Let’s face it, you just want to save your humongous pay cheque.

World highest paid story teller. The audiences are non other than the gullible voters.
You get what you asked for

This is really Chee Hong SUCK!

First said everything under control.

Then when things not in order, shift the blame to 3rd party contractors.

And then said booms not meant for containment.

From world highest paid scholars office holders.

Always others problems when there’s problems but collecting millions of dollars tax payers money is our problem. Because tax payers voted them in

Pay peanuts get money.

We pay good $m money, we get a bozo instead.

Chee Hong Tart,try as he may is a failure & he will soon join Lui Tuck Yew as an Ambassador to Timbuktu.

… the next-generation patrol craft of MPA — a S$12.2 million project which was designed and built by Penguin International…


Truly disappointed with million dollar salary ministers we are having. Not only one single post will have multiple milliob dollars ministers on it, you can’t even answer a direct question “… is there room for improvement, or is MOT looking to improve the response time for such spills …”. I can see from the video that the respond was at best trying to dodge a direct hit of the question because you have no good answer nor clue on the issue; at worse, candidly manufacture a pessimistic answer to ‘dealt with it later down the slope’. You are telling us… Read more »

This oil spillage is the defining moment for DickChee !!!

In fact it is moments, as in plural act~tually, … as there have been quite a few and they’ve all showcased his abject inability to prepare, manage, monitor, update and honest reporting and reflection.

Inexcusable and piss poor execution of one’s duties and responsibilities, … as a senior minister within this regime !!!

Certainly hope that enough, … will see the nonsense for what it is, the stoutly defended claim and boast, … that this regime pays the best to attract only the best !!!

It’s about time for LW to do thorough spring cleaning and Rid Out some deadwoods from his cabinet. They’re becoming a liability and costly items to keep.

CHT, GF, VB for a start

What do you think?

“fenced in”, “ponding” …. whatever. PAP very creative with words.

When things go wrong, miws would use ,’international standards’ to explain and wiggle away any blame for oversights and lapses.

But these clowns cleverly don’t use international standards to benchmark their astronomical salaries.

It’s really mind-boggling that this chee hong moron is getting paid 3 times more than superpower’s biden and can’t even do a job competently in handling one oil spill.

If the contractor was not able to arrive, CHT and team would have jumped into the spillage to prevent the oil from spreading? The PAP ruling party must learn to take ownership of mishaps and mistakes. A million dollar salary must work towards prevention. If and when that fails which will happen, there must be a protocol in place. You must be in full control to execute all necessary actions. Waiting for an outside contractor means that you don’t have the authority to deal with the spillage. CHT should zip up his mouth and tell us how he is going… Read more »

Chee Hong arh Chee Hong,you are next to follow Lui Tuck Yew – babbler mouth failure!!!

Good work TOC… !!
Catch them with their pants down… but no doubt. SPH will
do a gooblygook to confuse voters . That is the role of SPH.

This old spill HAS AMPLY CLEARLY DEMONSTRATED PAP Administration DISASTROUS management to contain HUGE ACCIDENTS. When it’s NOT ACCIDENTs, ONE can QUITE CLEARLY observed MISTAKES are Classified And SWEPT under their Strategic NO Blame Culture WHICH BASICALLY make them FREE of GUILT and ESCAPE PUNISHMENTS, which commonly laid blame on others TO SHOULDER. Years DOWN the road, Ask Oneself COULD it have had BEEN DISASTROUS with PAP still in control of SG? The SUPER WELCOME of Foreign Trash by the Millions HAS SHOT up Inflation, Home Prices, Human Jams, Competition to KICK SGpns out of jobs. There MIGHT EVEN BE… Read more »