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The harbour craft sector plays an important role in supporting the activities and businesses in the port of Singapore. Harbour crafts are vessels that only navigate within Singapore’s waters. The key roles of a Steersman include ferrying of ship agents and seafarers between vessel and shore, ferrying harbour pilots to board commercial ships, and the transporting and supplying of ship stores and provisions to ships at anchorages.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) began actively looking into attracting locals into the harbour craft sector in 2008 and grooming them to become competent seafarers. In 2009, MPA collaborated with the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) to launch the Port Limit Trainee Steersman Programme. This programme for Harbour Craft Steersman assists the harbour craft sector in recruiting and training potential candidates as well as equipping them with the knowledge and skills to be a competent Steersman.

The programme covers both theory and hands-on training for basic seamanship, boat handling, survival techniques and safety and emergencies at sea. The two training phases under this programme include:

This course covers the following topics:

  • Introduction to Nautical Terms
  • Identification of various types of vessels within port limit
  • International Regulations for Preventing Collision at Sea
  • Basic Principles of Ship Handling
  • Safe Mooring and Anchoring
  • Basic Knowledge of Tide and Tidal Streams
  • Recognition of Flags and Signals in Port of Singapore
  • IALA Maritime Buoyage System and Aids to Navigations in Port of Singapore
  • Locations of Anchorages and their functions, Fairways and Channels in Port of Singapore
  • Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore Regulations, Port Marine Circulars and Notices
  • Practical Rope Works (Knots, Bends and Hitches)
  • Emergency Procedures


The objective of this course is to prepare the participants to be competent to carry out maneuvering and watch-keeping duties on board the vessels in a safe manner within the Singapore Port Limit area.


Only Singaporeans and PR are eligible for the examination conducted by Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

Foreign candidates are eligible only under special conditions and approval from Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

In order to qualify as a candidate for the examination to obtain the manning license as a Port Limit Steersman, the participant must:

(a) be at least 18 years of age;

(b) have passed an approved eyesight test conducted not more than 6 months before the examination.

(c) have within the 5 years immediately preceding the examination, acquired the relevant period of practical experience as a crew member in one or more of the following power driven vessels:

  • a licenced harbour craft
  • a vessel belonging to the government or a statutory board or
  • a sea-going vessel engaged in trade, a trawler or a deep sea fishing vessel

(d) for the purposes of point 3., the relevant period of practical experience is either;

  • a total period of no less than 3 months, if the person has completed his minimum secondary education or higher and such training courses for a Steersman as the Port Master may require; or
  • a total period of no less than 6 months.


The following chart shows the typical progression of a trainee steersman who can upgrade to become a steersman and subsequently a helmsman after clocking the requisite seatime and passing the relevant exams.


This programme is available for application throughout the year.


Please refer to to view the course programmes.


ST Engineering – Port Limit Courses


CoC (Special Limit) Deck Officer
CoC (Special Limit) Marine Engineer

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The Maritime Singapore Connect (MSC) Office is a national initiative, supported by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, to profile the maritime industry and connect students and jobseekers with the multiple pathways into the industry.

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