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Transporting Christmas Cheer: A Yuletide Maritime Story

Did you know that Jan 6th marks the 12th Day of Christmas? Even as we look back with longing on the festive season that is gone all too soon, let’s take a moment to appreciate the men and women behind the transportation of the sugar for our log cakes, toys for our little ones and Christmas trees in our homes.

From the Chartering Executive, Marine Insurance Broker, Deck Officer to Senior Operations Supervisor, this is a story about Santa’s little helpers in the maritime industry and how they help to make our Christmas wishes come true.

Getting the Basic Parts from Santa’s Workshop

Quality products begin with quality materials. Raw materials used in the primary production or manufacturing of goods are often referred to as commodities. These commodities are sourced from suppliers all over the world, and they are transported to respective manufacturers by ships of various shapes and sizes to be converted into finished products. You can think of it as Santa’s Workshop where the elves tinker away. Once the products are ready, the helpers in Santa’s Workshop will prepare them for transportation to distributors and wholesalers across the globe.

Onto the Reindeer Sleigh and Off We Go

Finished products are transported from “Santa’s Workshop” to the distributors across the globe by ship. Think of the ship as a reindeer sleigh. Over 90% of the world’s trade is carried by sea as it is by far the most cost-effective way to move goods around the world.

This is a complex process that requires an eye for detail because each product requires different handling and transportation procedures to maintain the quality of the goods in transit. Specialised cargo carriers are distinguished by the type of cargo they transport. This process starts with Santa’s little helpers like Chartering Executive, Mr Ten Zhi Yong who is responsible for matching cargo to their ships (or sleighs!).

For example, toys are shipped in container ships geared for efficiency of loading and offloading. With specially designed compartments to hold containers securely in place, these ships can be filled and be under way in just a matter of hours.

But what happens if a present is lost in transit? Ms Michelle Pang is a Marine Insurance Broker who ensures insurance coverage for cargo in the event they are lost during the transfer between the point of origin and the final destination.

Even Santa has sleigh safety policies

Santa and his helpers work hard every festive season to ensure that all the gifts are transported safely. Deck Officer, Ms Baby Tan Shi Ni’s job is to ensure the safe navigation of ships, passengers, crew and cargo by monitoring and maintaining procedures for fire hazard and damage control requirements. In other words, she makes sure the reindeers are well taken care of!

Climate-sensitive goods such as sugar for your festive goodies must be transported in climate-controlled cargo holds and shipping containers. These can be Bulk In, Bulk Out vessels, where sugar is loaded by means of bulk conveying systems into insulated and air-conditioned ship holds. Upon arrival at the port of destination, the sugar is then transferred from holds to an automated on-board bagging plant and filled into bags to be discharged directly into trucks located alongside the vessel.

Down the Chimney

After a fun journey on the sleighs (or ships), our presents arrive into Singapore waters to be distributed to stores. Senior Operations Supervisor, Mr Muhammad Dinie Bin Abdul Aziz oversees the planning and sequencing of cargo loading and unloading, and the placement of cargo in the port terminal. This Santa's helper is aided in his job by innovations such as automated guided vehicles, which allow for quicker transport of cargo between quayside and the container yards compared to traditional vehicles.

Driverless trucks have been trialled in Singapore to transport cargo from port to storage facilities. In land-scarce countries such as Singapore where space is expensive, warehouse buildings make up in height what they lack in width. Careful planning goes into ensuring the ease and efficiency of drop-offs and pick-ups. Far from the quintessential vast rectangular spaces, these warehouses must work with space constraints and are designed accordingly so that truck drivers can operate with speed and efficiency.

24/7, 365 Maritime Heroes

As festive items fly off the shelves each holiday season, various products are transported from warehouses and delivered to respective retailers via ships to our shores and into our homes. So, let us keep Santa’s helpers in mind who were hard at work behind the scenes while we were feasting and making merry! And while Santa does this one night per year, these maritime heroes do it all year round. On behalf of Santa’s year-round helpers, the MSC Office wishes everyone a mari-time in the New Year ahead!

To find out more about Maritime Singapore and career options for you to play a part in this dynamic and growing industry, explore the Maritime Singapore Connect website now.

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About The MSC Office

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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