IMO Day of the Seafarer 2024: Fostering Safety and Camaraderie

Tan Heng Shoon, Chief Engineer at Pacific Carriers Limited

This IMO Day of the Seafarer (DotS) 2024, we had the pleasure of speaking with Chief Engineer Tan Heng Shoon at Pacific Carriers Limited on 2024’s theme of safety at sea, which recognizes the contributions of seafarers upholding quality safety standards within the maritime sector. Let’s hear from Heng Shoon on his extensive experiences as a marine engineer, and how he looks out for the safety and welfare of his crew.

What first inspired you to join maritime, and later decide on a career in marine engineering?

From a young age, my fascination in the maritime sector was ignited by stories shared by my father and his sailor friends. These narratives were more than just daring adventures and tales of travel. They painted vivid pictures of diverse cultures and captivated my imagination with life onboard a self-sufficient, travelling “island”.

What truly intrigued me were the technical challenges they faced onboard, such as navigating intricate systems and overcoming the complexities of marine engineering. This blend of hands-on problem solving and the application of technology onboard fascinated me, and made me decide on a career in marine engineering.

Singapore is a premier global hub port and international maritime centre, and it is reassuring to know that there will always be a steady stream of opportunities.

Heng Shoon poses with colleagues aboard PAC Canopus, a Singapore-flagged general cargo vessel.

What qualities are essential for being a good marine engineer?

To excel as a marine engineer, it is essential to possess both technical proficiency and interpersonal skills. A deep understanding of the systems and machinery principles would be advantageous for effective troubleshooting and to ensure smooth operation in demanding maritime environments.

Mental strength also plays a pivotal role. The ability to remain composed under pressure and make sound decisions during critical moments ensures safety and efficiency onboard, safeguarding both crew and cargo.

Beyond the technical and interpersonal skills, softer skills like practical judgement and humor prove invaluable. Maintaining morale through humor builds camaraderie onboard and promotes a positive work environment during long voyages.


This IMO Day of the Seafarer 2024, #SafetyTipsAtSea is the campaign hashtag. Can you share your top safety tips at sea and how best to practice them?

As a seafarer, the challenges of mental fatigue and high stress environments can compromise situational awareness and impair response, potentially leading to accidents and incidents onboard. My best tip would be to manage your workload effectively and avoid taking all responsibilities and problems alone. If you encounter challenges along the way, seek assistance! You’ll find that people are often more willing to help than you might expect. 

Ensure adequate rest and hydrate often to prevent fatigue and promote mental alertness. Additionally, take part in recreational activities and social interactions onboard.

Seafarers who are physically and mentally healthy are more alert and are able to respond effectively to emergencies and tasks. “Safety begins with a healthy mind, body and soul.”

Heng Shoon with his team of marine engineers during one of his voyages.

How do you envision the role of maritime safety evolving in the future?

I believe the future of maritime safety will be characterized by innovation, sustainability and digitalization. There would be an increased integration of AI, IOT and automation. These technologies would be key in enhancing real-time monitoring of vessels and in predicting potential safety hazards, and ultimately improving navigational and operational safety.

As the maritime industry increasingly prioritises environmental sustainability through the adoption of alternative fuels and advanced green technologies, comprehensive training would be crucial in ensuring safe operation and maintenance such that they do not compromise the safety of the ship.

Additionally, with the increase in digitalization of maritime operations, cybersecurity would be a critical aspect in maritime safety. The future of maritime safety will be shaped by regulatory developments and commitments to foster a safe and sustainable maritime industry.

Comprehensive training in the safe handling of new fuel technologies is crucial, says Heng Shoon.

Beyond being an engineer, you are also a talented musician. What are some of your favourite artists and songs that you listen to during your voyages?

On most days, during long voyages, I find myself drawn towards acoustic music for its contemplative qualities. However, when the going gets tough, indie music becomes my go-to choice. My favourites include Bob Dylan for his poetic lyrics, Rex Orange County for his soulful tunes and Bon Iver’s atmospheric soundscapes.

Despite my diverse taste in music, my top playlist on Spotify is actually dedicated to sleep meditation!

As an industry veteran, what is one advice you would like to impart to young seafarers?

The journey as a marine engineer not only demands hard work, but also a strong mind and a positive personality. Keep your goal in mind and do take time to thoroughly research the diverse sectors, job roles, and career pathways within this industry. 

Seek advice from professionals in the field and align your passion and interests within your abilities, and most importantly, stay committed. Additionally, being away from loved ones for extended periods can be challenging, so maintaining honest and regular communication is important. Make the effort to nurture your relationships while at sea and during your leave. This foundation of trust and support will contribute to your overall wellbeing throughout your career.

Support from family and an understanding partner who provides emotional stability and encouragement enhances resilience and effectiveness in this demanding yet rewarding profession.


In addition to the necessary technical skills as a marine engineer, Heng Shoon believes that ensuring safety standards goes beyond excelling in his role as an engineer; it extends to fostering strong bonds between fellow crew members. As we celebrate the IMO Day of the Seafarer, we express our gratitude to the unsung heroes who drive global trade at sea, recognising their dedication and resilience in ensuring the smooth operation of maritime activities worldwide.


Inaugural MSC Maritime Digital Challenge Grand Finals Prize Presentation

Over 129 tertiary students across 35 teams took part in the inaugural MSC Maritime Digital Challenge that seeks to plug Singapore students with a passion for technology into the maritime industry.
Students from the Singapore Management University and Nanyang Polytechnic were announced as winners of the challenges posed by Eastport Maritime, Kanda and Torvald Klaveness at the Prize Presentation held on 13 November 2021.

MSC Maritime Digital Challenge 2021

Three challenge statements, 35 teams, 129 students and 12 finalist teams from 4 universities & 3 polytechnics. Catch behind-the-scene highlights of the MSC Maritime Digital Challenge 2021.

Singapore Maritime Foundation | MSC Maritime Digital Challenge 2021

Catch highlights of the MSC Maritime Digital Challenge 2021. We thank Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport Mr. Chee Hong Tat for being our Guest-of-Honour at the event.

SMF New Year Conversations 2022: Year-in-Perspective Video

The past two years of learning to live with Covid-19 has been challenging, but Maritime Singapore has remained resilient. What are the fundamental tenets that attract companies to anchor their business in Singapore and grow their operations here? And what more can be done to leverage on Singapore’s strengths to enhance its attractiveness as a global business hub for maritime companies? How will the Singapore Maritime Foundation organize its work around Connectivity, Innovation and Talent to strengthen the maritime ecosystem? Find out in this Year-in-Perspective video.

SMF New Year Conversations 2022: Opportunities Amid Disruptions

The 2022 SMF New Year Conversations that took place on 13 January 2022 was graced by Guest-of-Honour Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Transport & Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations. Over 250 industry leaders across the breadth of maritime attended physically and virtually.
Singapore was announced to have secured the overall top spot as an international maritime centre for the fifth consecutive time in the DNV-Menon Leading Maritime Cities 2022 report.
Thank you to our industry partners for your strong support.

Mr. Lars Kastrup


Mr. Lars Kastrup is the Chief Executive Officer of Pacific International Lines (Pte) Ltd (PIL).

Prior to joining PIL, Mr. Kastrup was CEO of NOL/APL, and subsequently assumed the role of Executive Vice President, Strategy and M&A at CMA CGM Group. A veteran in the global shipping industry with over 30 years of experience, Mr Kastrup’s other roles include Executive Vice President of Assets at CMA CGM Group heading up CMA Terminals, CMA Ships, Container Logistics as well as regional carriers such as MacAndrews, OPDR and Mercosul; as well as Vice President at AP Moller-Maersk.
Mr. Kastrup complemented his tertiary education with leadership and management training at Penn State University and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ms. Angeline Teo


Ms. Angeline Teo is the Managing Director and Head of Global Transportation and Offshore, Global Corporate Banking at OCBC Bank which focuses on the maritime, aviation, land & port ecosystems.
Ms. Teo has spent over three decades in maritime finance. Prior to OCBC, Ms. Teo was working at ING Bank, ABN Amro and DnB in Singapore focusing on maritime and offshore.
Ms. Teo graduated from the National University of Singapore with a degree in Business Administration.

Mr. John Martin


Mr. John Martin began his career in London in 1989 with Richards Hogg Lindley Average Adjusters, and qualified as a Fellow of the UK Association of Average Adjusters in 2000.
At RHL he worked in their offices in Australia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. In 2003 he joined Gard Hong Kong, as a claims handler. Mr. Martin also worked in Gard Japan, and in 2014 he moved to Singapore to set up the Gard Singapore office.
Besides running Gard Singapore, Mr. Martin also heads the P&I and H&M claims units and is the Senior Claims Representative for Gard in Asia.

Mr. Cyril Ducau


Mr. Cyril Ducau is the Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Pacific Shipping Pte Ltd, a leading shipping company headquartered in Singapore for the past 30 years.

He is also currently the Chairman of Kenon Holdings Ltd and a member of the board of directors of Gard P&I (Bermuda) Ltd. and of the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation Limited, which was established by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. He was previously Head of Business Development of Quantum Pacific Advisory Limited in London from 2008 to 2012 and acted as Director and Chairman of Pacific Drilling SA between 2011 and 2018.
Prior to joining Quantum Pacific Advisory Limited, Mr. Ducau was Vice President in the Investment Banking Division of Morgan Stanley & Co. International Ltd. in London between 2000 and 2008.
Mr. Ducau graduated from ESCP Europe Business School (Paris, Oxford, Berlin) and holds a Master of Science in business administration and a Diplom Kaufmann.