Connect with us


Chee Hong Tat: MPA patrol vessel’s ‘lightweight’ booms unsuitable for containing oil spill on 14 June

Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat explained to Parliament why MPA didn’t deploy immediate containment booms during the Pasir Panjang Terminal Oil Spill. He noted that the MPA patrol vessel’s lightweight booms, suitable for small spills like bunkering, were considered unsuitable for the substantial 14 June spill of 400 tonnes of oil.



SINGAPORE: Regarding why The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) did not immediately deploy the containment booms on its patrol vessel during the Pasir Panjang Terminal Oil Spill Incident on 14 June, Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat has finally provided an explanation, which was not disclosed in his earlier statement.

Responding to Members of Parliament (MPs) inquiries about the timeliness of the response to the major oil spill, Mr Chee explained to the House on Tuesday (2 July) that the booms on the MPA patrol vessel are lightweight oil containment booms.

These are suitable for quickly addressing small and localized oil spills, such as those occurring during bunkering operations.

“These lightweight booms were assessed to be unsuitable for dealing with the oil spill incident on 14 June, which was a more serious spill involving the sudden discharge of an estimated 400 tonnes of oil into the sea,” Mr Chee stated.

Minister Chee noted that for such significant spills, the MPA patrol vessel focuses on spraying dispersants and deploying contractors to lay heavy-duty oil containment booms around the damaged vessel as a preventive measure in case of further spillage.

He reiterated that this is the established procedure, which aligns with international practices for dealing with oil spills, and that the MPA response team on the patrol vessel followed this procedure correctly.

Concerns were raised about why the MPA did not immediately deploy the containment booms on its patrol vessel while waiting for the contractors’ vessels to arrive.

The collision between the vessels Vox Maxima and Marine Honor occurred on 14 June at 2:18 PM. The MPA was notified at 2:22 PM, and its first patrol craft arrived at the incident site 11 minutes later, at 2:33 PM.

Upon confirming that a significant amount of oil had spilt into the water, the patrol craft sprayed dispersants in the surrounding areas. Mr Chee affirmed that this needed to be done quickly so the dispersants could start breaking down the oil.

Besides the initial patrol vessel, 11 more vessels from the MPA and their contractors were deployed to perform different roles during the initial phase of the response on 14 June, Mr Chee added.

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.

Workers’ Party MPs advocate improving oil spill response time following delay in containment efforts

Associate Professor Jamus Lim, Workers’ Party MP for Sengkang GRC then questioned the minister on the economic sense of having in-house oil spill containment capacity versus contracting it out, given heavy traffic and significant environmental consequences.

He also highlighted the best practice response time of 2-4 hours versus the 6 hours taken in this incident.

In response, Minister Chee clarified that MPA has significant in-house capabilities and does not outsource all assets and capabilities.

He noted that the first vessel to arrive on the scene was an MPA patrol vessel and that the MPA has its own vessels deployed.

He stressed the need to work with specialized industry contractors for effective spill management.

“Some of these contractors are specialized experts. Some of them specialize in laying of booms, some of them specialize in skimming the oil, some of them specialize in some other areas.”

“It is important for us to not see this as a binary kind of situation that everything has to be in-house or everything has to be outsourced, ” Minister Chee told the House.

Minister Chee: T&T Salvage loading heavy-duty containment booms upon notification of the incident

Workers’ Party MP for Hougang SMC Dennis Tan then asked considering the time required for T&T Salvage Asia to mobilize and deploy booms, asked if the MPA would review the storage, loading, and mobilization processes of all equipment, including containment booms, to ensure reduced mobilization time.

Mr Tan also suggested considering requiring shipping terminals at locations like Pasir Panjang, Pulau Bukom, Pulau Sebarok, and Jurong Island to have containment booms and rescue vessels within easy reach for quick deployment.

Minister Chee reiterated his support for T&T Salvage Asia’s efforts, explaining that upon notification by MPA, the company had to load heavy-duty containment booms onto their vessels, which is a time-consuming process.

He acknowledged T&T Salvage Asia’s arrival at the incident site by 9:41 PM on the same day, noting challenges such as adverse weather and nighttime conditions that hampered the rapid deployment of heavy containment booms.

“I think T&T did their best and the response time was in line with
the industry practices internationally.”

WP MP Gerald Giam queries Minister Chee on timely deployment and effectiveness of containment booms in oil spills

In a supplementary question, Mr Gerald Giam, WP MP for Aljunied GRC questioned Minister Chee about the purpose and timing of deploying containment booms during oil spills.

“Does the minister not agree that the earlier the booms are deployed the better?”

“Because even if the booms cannot completely fence in the oil, they can prevent a large amount of the oil from spreading faster and this would reduce the amount of oil the reduce amount and cost or the cleanup needed.”

In response, Minister Chee again reiterated that his explanation were based on international practices developed by industry experts over years.

He emphasized that the primary purpose of deploying containment booms is to prevent further spillage from damaged vessels, rather than trying to contain already spilled oil.

The Minister highlighted the logistical challenges involved in rapid deployment despite favourable conditions, noting that oil can quickly disperse due to environmental factors.

“So there’s no disagreement in Mr Giam that speed is important, and faster is better.”

“But I also hope Mr Giam understands that even under the best circumstances, some tasks are just not possible, not practical. And in this case, it is not possible to try and fence in the oil around the damaged vessel, because it has already been spilled and it will be carried by the currents and the waves away from the location side.”

MPA’s revealed S$12.2M next-generation patrol craft project in 2020: highlights swift boom deployment capability

Back in 2020, 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 exercise highlighted significant improvements in response times, with the new vessels capable of deploying booms within half an hour, compared to previous times of four to eight hours, demonstrating enhanced readiness and effectiveness in handling maritime incidents.

Share this post via:
Continue Reading
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

If LKY were in charge today, he would have immediately removed this incompetent chee hong tat and replace him with a much better replacement. No excuses no ifs no buts. Why isn’t this incompetent chee replaced? No ya, pap’s no blame culture, take no responsibility culture, take-credit-only-blame-others-only culture, the toxic pap culture that is destroying pap from its core and Singapore totally.

More excuses ya? The former Goh Keng Swee would have sacked you outright for incompetence and poor performance! I guess they don’t make ministers like they used to, and at such exorbitant millionaire salaries!!!!

Wait wait just wait ok. Why do you have equipment that isn’t suitable for the purpose it was for?
Why do you have a badminton racket for a tennis game?
So basically all this twisting and turning means you’re just lying to save yourself right?

Tat, what is the SOP if one day in the future another oil spill caused by a super tanker happens again? This time, on a mega scale

Don’t decide and act on hindsight, ok? Are you going to rely on international standards to respond and considered situation mitigated?

Can a police report be made that someone lied in parliament..??
Like how a police report was made against Pritam Singh for making statements in Parliament..??

Parliamentary statements can only be made by PAP..?? and not get charged if these statements are untrue..??

He also said initially that the SimplyGo system couldn’t handle displaying the balance of the cardholder. Later it was found that it can be done. So pappies SOP is to cover backside first, throw smoke at the public, before having the full facts before him.

Chee, Chee, it appears that upstairs not happy with you lah.

One bad thing happening one after another. Now lightning struck mrt line.

Perhaps, the $m chair is not meant for you.

What do you think?

I do not buy this CHT snake oil analogy. He should instead heads Ministry of Crab which I come across recently. Singapore is a oil hub for refining, transhipment, bunkering, etc. If I recall correctly there is a dedicated Oil Spill Response company, think based in Loyang, either set up or supported by the oil majors just for such purpose for Singapore and for the nearby region. What happen to this? He mention that MPA patrol boat booms is not suited for this purpose and hence not deployed. Why not if it can mitigate the spread or guide the spilled… Read more »

Perhaps just a speculation – they possibly had requested assistance from Shell Pulau Bukom BV. And understandably Shell Pulau Bukom BV showed them this PAP the Middle Finger since they are exiting SG refinery business.

Insofar till today, any explanation given why Shell is getting out?

When 2 train cabins COLLIDED the SG Govt Service servants so SCARED of PAP instead of BEING HONEST to serve people of SG whose taxes paid part of their salaries called the Collision – CAME INTO CONTACT.

Then WHY these 2 vessels CAME INTO CONTACT causes SO MUCH problems and LOSSES of Millions and Millions of SG Money Except UNTOUCHED, the Salaries and Pockets of IRRESPONSIBLE PAP Millionaire Law Makers RESPONSIBLE to, WHO SUPPOSE to keep order and SPEND WISELY SG and People’s Money?

Last edited 11 days ago by 80twenty

Chee Hong Scuk is going merry go round with his answers, trying very hard to wiggle his way out.

But it still begs the ultimate question, why did the situation spiralled out of control, even reaching our neighbour since it was claimed response within international standards and mitigated?

Chee Hong Tat does not seem able to give coherent answers. This is the first time we are told “that the booms on the MPA patrol vessel are lightweight oil containment booms” and cannot do the job of containing the oil spill. “He (CHT) reiterated that this is the established procedure, which aligns with international practices for dealing with oil spills, and that the MPA response team on the patrol vessel followed this procedure correctly”. In other words, if we failed, it is not our fault. Yeah, I know the G scrapped the bottom of the barrel to come up… Read more »

From this dick’s statements to date, … one’d be forgiven for assuming that SillyPore had only been in the oil refining and storage business, … for a few bleedin weeks !!! This dick and his comrades will cite that they align with with international practices and standards, … when it suits their f**k~ups, bs excuses and/or untruths !!! Don’t see them aligning with international practices and norms, … when it comes to right to peaceful protestations and public assemblies !!! What more, the nation is only informed of the relevant details/information, … on a piece meal basis, and only when… Read more »

Nobody asked; a dredger near a container terminal? Was it in pilotage? Tug boats assist? When did the engine failed? How much time between engine failure to collision? Anyway, the response after the collision was disastrous, shameless to praise themselves for doing well. Pay 猫山王durian, you still get the Monkey!

So those CHT self praise for fast responses, used a patrol vessel unsuitable for the substantial 14 June spill of 400 tonnes of oil.

Meaning MPA were fast in deploying there wrong equipment.

It takes 3 milliondollars miws to handle and report one oil spill which ends up in a real mess yet to contain. But no one is accountable.

Is that productivity?

Both big jobs he was trusted to undertake, got messed up…
Still can make excuses…

Only in Singapore, a Self Vowed Smart Nation which is UNIVERSALLY UNRECOGNISED, running it’s society with adept Foolish Law makers, paid Millions of Tax Payers Dollars shows the world HOW NOT TO MAKE A FOOL of themselves.

How can 5.5/10 VOTERS DO NOT CRY Father and Mother speaks Volume the wisdom of its 6 million residents.

How many hundreds of million dollars MPA get from the Budget annually? But wait, I think a lot of the money were spent on fat compensations and opulent offices that top managements enjoyed.

How can MPA which manage a busy maritime for decades be caught with its pants down and blame external contractors for emergencies?

It means MPA is not prepared for emergencies even though it tell the whole world how “well prepared they are” with exercises and some fancy expensive for show toys.

Last edited 12 days ago by Singapore Fooled Again n Again

MillionDollar Minister Grace Fu, please also tell us what is the total estimated economic losses on businesses, environmental impact costs, and how much it results in sustainability losses as the result of the oil spills. You may want to make sure your juvenile MillionDollar Minister colleague Chee does his work and ask for improvement plans and set KPI for him? Ultimately as Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, this oil spill is neither very environmentally ‘friendly’ and nor Sustainable. Please calculate the cost of your fellow colleagues generates for not doing their job right. Looking forward for a report on… Read more »


Last edited 11 days ago by Blankslate

Spam – No approval

Last edited 11 days ago by Blankslate


Last edited 11 days ago by Blankslate

It should have still been deployed while waiting for T& T Salvage. My question was not answered, what would have been the next course of action if T&T Salvage could not take up the job because of prior commitments ? What was the alternative plan of the Port Authority? We have a mega.port surely a response to oil spills should be In place. Please don’t deflect the reply to International practices as no Minister in the world is paid a million dollars.

First you said that the dispersants were to prevent the oil from “hardening”. Now you say the dispersants are to “break down the oil”. What is the EXACT PURPOSE of breaking own the oil? So it SINKS out of sight? Basically out of sight out of mind? One would think that the CORRECT mitigation action is to REMOVE the spilled oil from the water. ALL actions taken should be with this objective in mind, whether it is carried out immediately (best course of action) or later. If the light weight booms are only suitable for small spills during bunkering operations,… Read more »

MillionDollar Minister Chee, it’s time to tell us what would be the estimated cost of cleaning up. And 6 months later, gives us an update on the clean up and the actual cost spend.

By then, tell us what improvements, in details that you and your department had taken.

Oh! The reasons kept upgrading! 🤣
Sounds like trying hard to justify MillionDollar pay? If got information, please provide all at one go. This is not like CDC vouchers, here give 300 and there give 500 will make you look bright.
Not suitable? So, where are the suitable ‘heavyweights’ booms? Keeping it for Christmas?

He really gave a CB explanation in parliament some more.

So 12.2 M spent and no plan for larger spills. Now blame International standards. Maybe Minister we should have a salvage company to have permanent booms in their craft for early deployments for such kind of disaster and re- write the international standards.