4 introductory facts about Singapore’s maritime industry

Do you know Singapore to be a maritime shipping hub, but little else past this?

That was me, and I decided to do some sleuthing to remedy this. Here’re some fascinating things I’ve learnt that I want to share with you!

1) Singapore is an important global hub port

Singapore has consistently taken first place in maritime rankings and reports. Here are some notable ones:

  • The Xinhua-Baltic International Shipping Centre Index (2020)[i]. This is an independent ranking that looks at the performance of the world’s largest cities offering port and shipping business services. Singapore has ranked first for seven consecutive years[ii].
  • The Leading Maritime Capitals of the World Report (2019), a biennial report made in cooperation between Menon Economics and DNV GL. 200 experts took part in the survey. Singapore took the Gold in the report’s Shipping, Ports and Logistics, and Attractiveness and Competitiveness pillars[iii].

Our ports are always busy, even when we’re asleep! More than 130,000 ships call at Singapore every year, according to Maritime Singapore, with two to three ships coming and going every minute[iv]. Currently, over 5,000 maritime organisations and businesses call Singapore home[v].

2) The maritime industry is a key contributor to Singapore’s GDP

The maritime industry contributed seven percent to Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product in 2017 (last-reported figures), with manpower over 170,000 strong[vi].

Our ports handled 33.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) then, with container traffic growing to a record high of 37.2 million TEUs in 2019. While 2020 saw this dip slightly due to the COVID-19 pandemic alongside cargo throughput, Singapore still fared well. In fact, Singapore remains a leading bunkering port, with bunkering sales amounting to 49.8 million tonnes[vii].

As Singapore has been actively strengthening its maritime presence and capabilities—more on this below—we’re sure that this sector will continue to bolster our economy!

What is bunkering?

All ships have to refuel, and this is what bunkering entails! A bunker tank is where a vessel stores its fuel, and bunkering happens when a ship loads fuel into such tanks for its consumption and not as cargo. Types of marine fuels, for example, include Low-Sulfur Fuel Oil and Marine Gas Oil.

3) Singapore is set to have the world’s largest fully-automated terminal

The Port of Singapore currently has six terminals located at Brani, Keppel, Tanjong Pagar, Pasir Panjang, Jurong and Sembawang. This will change come 2040, however, after the Tuas mega port expansion project is completed! Poised to be the world’s largest container terminal, its first phase of operations will commence in 2021.

Port operations will be consolidated at the Tuas mega port by 2027 and the port will be able to handle 65 million TEUs. That’s 10 million more TEUs than the current maximum capacity (combined), roughly twice the size of Ang Mo Kio[viii]!

4) Further investments have been made to ensure that the sector continues to thrive

The Singaporean Government has been continually investing in the maritime sector, with the upcoming Tuas mega port being one example. Not long ago, a combined S$50 million of investments was raised for maritime technology startups to boost technology and innovation[ix]. The Government is also looking to accrue 20 billion in investments (business spending commitments) from industry players by 2024[x].

Helpful resources for those interested in a maritime career

If you want to be part of this dynamic and bustling sector, here’s some information that may come in handy.

One-stop portal offering information on everything from career features to an industry overview

This is a scholarship administered by the Singapore Maritime Foundation. Application dates run between April to May every year for selected diploma and degree programmes. A number of these have bond requirements.

  • The Maritime Cluster Fund

The Maritime Cluster Fund was launched by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, and the fund disburses training grants for selected maritime courses from professional to Master level. You can check out the list of pre-approved courses for 2021 as a reference.

  •  Brief course list (Diplomas and Degrees only)
      • Singapore Maritime Academy (Singapore Polytechnic)
        • Diploma in Marine Engineering
        • Diploma in Maritime Business
        • Diploma in Nautical Studies
        • Diploma (Conversion) in Maritime Business Management [Part-time]
        • Diploma in Maritime and Offshore Management [Part-time]
        • Work-Study Post-Diploma (Specialist Diploma in Port Management and Operations) [Part-time]
      • Nanyang Technological University
        • Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Maritime Studies
        • Bachelor of Science in Maritime Studies with Specialization in International Trading
        • Bachelor of Science in Maritime Studies – Work-Study Degree Programme (MS-WSDeg)
        • Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Maritime Studies with Second Major in Business (MSB)
        • Bachelor of Science in Maritime Studies with a Second Major in Business (International Trading)
      • Singapore Institute of Technology
        • Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Marine Engineering
      • Singapore Management University
        • Bachelor of Business Management (Operations Management)
          • International Trading and Maritime Business Operations tracks available

I hope that you’ve found these facts about Singapore’s maritime industry as interesting as I did. Please don’t hesitate to share any fun or cool knowledge with us in the comments below. We await your sharing!


[i] https://www.dropbox.com/s/flu8dwec5d6pf78/2020%20Xinhua-Baltic%20ISCDI%20report_Web_compressed.pdf?dl=0
[ii] https://www.balticexchange.com/en/news-and-events/news/press-releases-/2020/xinhua-baltic-report-2020–singapore-retains-top-spot-as-interna.html
[iii] https://www.dnv.com/news/leading-maritime-capitals-of-the-world-report-2019-singapore-still-on-top-145477
[iv] https://www.mpa.gov.sg/web/portal/home/maritime-singapore/introduction-to-maritime-singapore/facts-and-trivia
[v] http://www.maritimesingapore.sg/maritime-industry-overview/
[vi] https://www.mpa.gov.sg/web/portal/home/media-centre/news-releases/detail/83647952-0b16-4a15-ba04-32f14ba29bb2
[vii] https://www.mpa.gov.sg/web/portal/home/media-centre/news-releases/detail/d95e9e96-7df3-4235-80e3-93dde03dae3e
[viii] https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/tuas-port-to-be-worlds-largest-fully-automated-terminal-when-completed-in-2040-pm-lee
[ix] https://www.mpa.gov.sg/web/portal/home/media-centre/news-releases/detail/938d18a2-108e-4763-905a-f0646bba6acb
[x] https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/maritime-sector-to-receive-20-billion-in-investments-by-2024-new-jobs-to-be


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