From as early as the 13th century, the waterway in Keppel Bay had been used as a passage for ships sailing from the Straits of Malacca to the South China Sea. The first English references to the waterway appeared in the 17th century although their small number suggests infrequent use of it.
In September 1819, William Farquhar, whom Sir Stamford Raffles appointed as the first Resident of Singapore, reported that he discovered a ‘new harbour’ to the west of the settlement.
In 1848, Captain Henry Keppel discovered the sheltered, deep water harbour onboard the vessel, Meander. Repairs on the Meander were the first carried out in the harbour, known as New Harbour, where the Tanjong Pagar wharves would later be built. That name remained until 1900, when Keppel, then the Admiral, visited Singapore again. To honour him, the acting Governor, Sir Alexander Swettenham, renamed the harbour Keppel.
The development of the harbour in mid-19th century in Singapore led to the prosperity of the island.
Within Keppel Bay are some of Singapore’s oldest docks.
The island’s first graving dock, Dock No 1, as it was known, was built in 1859. Eight years later, Dock No 2 was constructed, which is today one of the water channels purposefully incorporated into the architecture of Caribbean at Keppel Bay.
Under the modernisation programme for the port in the early 1900s, the 40,000 dwt. King’s Dock, then the second largest in the world, was opened on 26 August 1913.
The 30,000 dwt Queen’s Dock was opened in 1956 and is today the water channel which lies between Caribbean at Keppel Bay and Reflections at Keppel Bay.
The story of Keppel parallels that of Singapore.
With independence in 1963, the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) was formed. The Singapore Drydocks and Engineering Company was set up in 1968 to take over the Dockyard Department of the PSA. On 23 August 1968, the name of the company was changed to Keppel Shipyard (Private) Limited.
Keppel Shipyard’s first yard in Telok Blangah occupied what is now Caribbean at Keppel Bay, Reflections at Keppel Bay and the Keppel Island across the bridge. The shipyard operations have since relocated to Keppel’s facilities in Tuas, Jurong.
Keppel Shipyard is today part of Keppel Offshore & Marine, one of the world’s leading offshore and marine groups with a global network of 20 yards and offices.