This is the third of a four-part series focused on Adm. Bob Papp’s official visits to Malta, Bahrain, Singapore and Guam.
Written by Cmdr. Rick Wester.
Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Bob Papp continued his outreach trip last week with an official visit to Singapore to meet with international partner agencies and Coast Guardsmen stationed there. This visit provided insights into the challenges faced by the Port of Singapore, the busiest port in the world as measured by vessel arrival tonnage, and further strengthened ties between the Coast Guard and Singapore.
Singapore is an Asian island city-state located adjacent to the straits of Malacca and Singapore, one of the busiest waterways in the world through which 40 percent of the world’s trade passes. To protect people on the sea, protect against threats delivered by sea and protect the sea itself in this busy waterway Singapore has three agencies that comprise roughly the same responsibilities as the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, which falls under the Ministry of Transport, is the driving force behind Singapore’s port and maritime development taking on the roles of port authority, port regulator, port planner, national maritime representative and champion for the maritime industry. It represents Singapore at the International Maritime Organization and also manages vessel traffic in the Port of Singapore and the Singapore Strait.
Singapore’s Police Coast Guard is the maritime division of the Singapore Police Force, which reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs and is responsible for operational maritime law enforcement. Singapore’s navy conducts counter piracy and defense operations and is part of the Ministry of Defence.
“As a sailor, I love to see vibrant ports like this with lots of activity,” said the Commandant. “But as the Commandant, I know it requires a lot of hard work and close coordination with a wide range of partners. I’m impressed with Singapore’s technically advanced vessel management system and highly capable Police Coast Guard assets and people.”
During the five-day visit the Commandant met with Singapore’s Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew, Chief Executive of MPA Lam Yi Young, Commissioner of Police Peter Ng Joo Hee, Singapore Police Coast Guard Commander Hsu Sin Yun and others during maritime safety and security briefings and demonstrations.
“MPA and the U.S. Coast Guard enjoy a good working relationship both bilaterally and at multilateral platforms, such as the IMO,” said Lam. “We are very honored to host Adm. Papp. We believe that this visit will further strengthen our ties with the U.S. Coast Guard.”
The Commandant also conducted an “all-hands” meeting with Coast Guardsmen stationed at U.S. Coast Guard Marine Inspection Detachment Singapore to discuss current issues and answer questions.
Coast Guard Ombudsman-at-Large Mrs. Linda Kapral Papp continued her ongoing family outreach efforts by meeting with detachment spouses and visiting the Singapore American School.
“This trip was very worthwhile,” said Mrs. Papp. “Personally coming here and meeting with the spouses gave me a much deeper insight into the unique challenges our families are facing overseas.”
The detachment has a staff of 11 who are responsible for inspecting U.S.-flagged vessels operating, being repaired or being constructed in the Asia-Pacific area. The international port security liaison officer from the detachment also observes implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code in 18 regional U.S. trading partner nations to assess anti-terror measures.
Underscoring the value of his visit to Singapore the Commandant told the Coast Guardsmen, “Our service was formed when Alexander Hamilton justified the need for cutters to patrol off our nation’s ports to enforce laws and provide security. Today, the entrance to our ports is right here in Singapore, and you are our forward defense, standing the watch to ensure our nation’s safety and security.”
The Commandant also thanked the detachment for saving lives through prevention, establishing and enforcing standards that reduce the risk of accidents and ensuring the safe, secure and environmentally sound use of waterways.