Malaysia possesses more than 500,000 km squares of territorial water inclusive of EEZ. In the eyes of the international shipping community, the Straits of Malacca and Singapore are seen as strategic sea lines of communication that facilitate global trade as they form the shortest route connecting both the Middle-Eastern oil suppliers with the Far Eastern economic giants of China, Japan and South Korea.

According to statistics for 2000, a daily average of 399 vessels passed through the Straits of Malacca and Singapore which translates to one every 3.6 minutes. In 2004, it was reported that more than 900 ships sail the Strait of Singapore daily, which means that one ship would pass the Strait of Singapore in every 1.6 minutes.


Salvage Operations

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) News reported in 2010 that yearly, the Straits of Malacca and Singapore accommodate almost six times the volume of navigational traffic that goes through the Suez Canal. In terms of navigational traffic, the Straits of Malacca and Singapore came second only to the Dover Strait, a crucial European chokepoint bordered by the United Kingdom, France and Belgium. An estimated 11 million barrels of oil pass the Straits of Malacca and Singapore daily.

Tankers and bulk carriers ferry vast quantities of oil, coal, iron ore and minerals to the economic centers of Southeast and Northeast Asia while on the other direction, millions of containers flow to feed consumer markets from all over the globe. In 2007, almost 80, 000 vessels of all types transited these waterways as shown in the following Table 1 :

Table 1 : Transiting vessel in the Strait of Malacca

Table 1 shows that oil tankers form 27% of all shipping transits, making up the second biggest fraction of the types of vessel plying the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. Table 1 also indicates that container vessels formed the biggest group of vessels plying the Straits in 2007 amounting to 35% of total transits.

Table 2 shows that there has been a steady increase in shipping traffic in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore in the years 2000-2007 and in light of the East Asian growing trade volumes traffic is predicted to double by 2020.

Table 2 : Shipping Traffic in the Strait of Malacca 2000-2009 (2020 projection)


Shipping is an inherently risky activity in which maritime accidents or casualties are common. There were 888 accidents reported to have occurred in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore in the 25-year period of 1978-2003. Between the years of 2001-2007, 236 maritime casualties took place in the Straits. These accidents can be categorized as follows:

Table 3 : Casualty Breakdown in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (2001-2007)

The major oil and hazardous and noxious substance (HNS) spills in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore are summarized in Table 4.

Table 4 : Selected Oil Spill Incidents in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore


An emergency tow vessel, also called emergency towing vessel, (ETV) is a multipurpose boat used by state authorities to tow disabled vessels on high seas in order to prevent dangers to human life, property and environment. The disabled vessel is either towed to a safe haven or kept in place against wind and current until commercial assistance by tug boats has arrived on site or until it has been repaired to the extent of being able to manoeuvres on its own.


The need for ETVs as a preventive measure has arisen since the number of available commercial salvage tugs was reduced while potential dangers from individual vessels have increased. E.g. Spain has fourteen, Turkey has eleven, Germany operates eight, Norway has seven, France has five, Sweden three and the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, Iceland and Finland each have one official emergency tug boat.

Australia also operates emergency response vessels. The United Kingdom's has four strong ETV fleets and two vessels operating in Scottish waters.



MRTE(M) Sdn. Bhd. with its extensive network of international salvage companies which own and operate salvage tugs having the expertise and equipment for salvage operations inclusive of firefighting and oil spill response equipment will assist to establish a salvage regional hub within Malaysia to both respond to salvage and wreck removal operations as necessitated by the Malaysian Government.

The ETV which shall be strategically positioned around the peninsular Malaysia shall be readily available for deployment for rescue and salvage operations as necessitated by circumstances of the case.



Taking into consideration similar services provided by ETV provider in EU countries, tugs proposed is of 100 ton to 200-ton Bollard Pull. However, owing to draft restriction at most parts of the Malacca Straits therefore we would consider proposing tug of about 65-ton Bollard Pull.

Straits of Malacca is known to be one of the busiest waterway in the world. Through this waterway, the majority of raw commodities are being transported to Far East industrial countries such as Korea, China and Japan. Through this water way also the finish industrial product is distributed to Middle East, Part of African Continent, Mediterranean as well as EU countries. With an estimated of more than 900 vessels passing through Malacca Straits daily, evident shows that at least 9 mishap/casualties take place annually with at least 2 major occurrences involving insurance claim of RM 120 million a year.

Up to date these revenue is collected by foreign salvage operators stationed in Singapore. Therefore, the time is ripe for Malaysian ETV operator to develop the skills and expertise in salvage operation as well as oil spill response which could potentially benefit the nation in the long run. The government actions are also justified to provide safer passage and cleaner oceans for international stake holders to trade within Malaysian Territorial Waters and preserving our oceans for future generation.