On 5 May 1967, at 5:55pm, the new white-and-red naval ensign of the Singapore Naval Volunteer Force (SNVF) was hoisted for the first time in front of the SNVF contingents at its headquarters, RSS Singapura, in Telok Ayer Basin. As the ensign, bearing the country’s crescent moon and five stars, and an eight-pointed mariner’s star, fluttered in the wind, the day went down in history as the beginning of the modern Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).
Being a nation that relies heavily on the waters surrounding it for its survival, the RSN was built from scratch. From its initial two wooden ships (RSS Panglima and RSS Bedok), the RSN has transformed itself into a technologically modern maritime force of Littoral Mission Vessels (LMV), frigates, corvettes and submarines, among others. Along with the new equipment, the men and women of the RSN have also embraced and honed new skills to allow them to carry out their mission of safeguarding Singapore’s waters and the region’s Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs).
Friendship and Commitment
In his welcome address, the Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral (RADM) Lai Chung Han highlighted how President Tony Tan has been a key supporter of the RSN’s development. “As Minister of Defence from 1995 to 2003, President oversaw the rapid development of the Navy, including the buildup of the Landing Ship Tank (LST), frigate and submarine programs, capabilities which are today core to our 3rd Generation Republic of Singapore Navy. In the year 2000, President also officiated at the foundation laying ceremony for the Changi Naval Base (CNB), and this morning we are privileged to have President name Changi Naval Base, RSS Singapura, to commemorate the RSN’s Golden Jubilee.”
Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral (RADM) Lai Chung Han
RADM Lai also thank the various countries for their participation in the review, saying: “We are truly honoured by your presence, which is testament to the strong ties we built up over the years with our friends and partners from the region and beyond.”
On the beginnings of the RSN, he said: “From humble beginnings, we have been able to build up a balanced and capable maritime force. This would not be possible without our pioneers and our partners. Our Navy pioneers laid a firm foundation for the RSN of today, while our partners, both national and international, enabled the RSN to fulfil our growing missions more effectively, even as the regional security environment became more complex and challenging.”
Reflecting on what the International Maritime Review (IMR) means, “This morning’s IMR is far more than a celebration of the RSN’s Golden Jubilee. It is a strong signal of our collective commitment to enhance the peace and security of our maritime region.”
A Maritime Nation in a Maritime Region
In his address, President Tony Tan Keng Yam touched on the RSN’s impact on the nation. “As a maritime nation in a maritime region, Singapore’s security and success are all the more inextricably linked to the sea. We rely on freedom of access to the sea for economic prosperity and progress. In this regard, the role of the RSN is critical to Singapore’s survival as a nation,” he said.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam
With regards to the RSN’s growth in capabilities, President Tan said: “Up to the 1990s, the RSN operated largely within the immediate region, occasionally deploying beyond Southeast Asia. With the frigates, the RSN is now able to engage Singapore’s strategic partners in high-end exercises farther away from our shores. Other platforms, such as the RSN’s LST, participated in key bilateral exercises such as Exercise Trident in Australia, as well as the search and rescue operations of the AirAsia flight QZ8501 in 2015.”
“One of the highlights of my visit to the RSN last year was the visit to the Archer-class submarines. I was pleased that the RSN has built up its submarine capability so quickly. I’m confident the RSN will continue to enhance its capabilities to address the evolving security landscape we are facing,” he said.
RSS Stalwart (left) and RSS Kallang (right), Republic of Singapore Navy
“The RSN’s stealth frigates and LSTs have participated in multi-national counter-piracy task forces, including the Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 in the Gulf of Aden. In fact, the RSN has taken command of CTF 151 four times, leading key partners in contributing to global maritime security. Within the region, the RSN works closely with Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand in the Malacca Straits Patrol (MSP), to protect a critical waterway for the world and the region. The RSN’s Information Fusion Centre (IFC) also works closely with global partners in information sharing, contributing to the fight against piracy,” said President Tan.
HTMS Chakri Naruebet, Royal Thai Navy
A key siginificant event was the naming of CNB as RSS Singapura. “Today, I’m very pleased to announce that Changi Naval Base will be named as RSS Singapura – Changi Naval Base. RSS Singapura was the name of RSN’s first headquarters. Naming Changi Naval Base as RSS Singapura – Changi Naval Base will serve as a reminder to our sailors of the RSN’s heritage and the RSN’s vital role in defending Singapore,” he said.
“Valour at Sea”
Land & Sea Review
Along with the SAF Central Band and the RSN Guard-of-Honour contingents, a multi-national contingent made up of 300 sailors from the 22 navies participating in the IMR added colour and vibrancy to the parade segment. The Land Review portion of the IMR began with President Tony Tan boarding a G-Wagon and reviewing the multi-national contingent, before proceeding to review the 20 Singapore and foreign navies, and Police Coast Guard ships berthed at CNB.
Large ships including the JS Izumo from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and HTMS Chakri Naruebet from the Royal Thai Navy, were parked along the wharves next to ships such as the USS Coronado from the United States Navy and SLNS Sagara from the Sri Lanka Navy.
Boarding the RSS Independence, the President and VIPs were sailed out to the waters off CNB where 26 ships were anchored in four rows for the Sea Review. This included the Varyag from the Russian Navy, ROKS Dae Jo Yeong from the Republic of Korea Navy, and the HMNZS Te Kaha from the Royal New Zealand Navy. Returning to base, the IMR concluded with a flypast by a Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk, a Fokker 50 ME2 MPA and two Boeing F-15SG Strike Eagles, from the Republic of Singapore Air Force.
RSS Independence, Republic of Singapore Navy
In 1992, during the RSN’s Silver Jubilee, the call was put out “to be the Best Little Navy in the World” by then Chief of Navy, RADM Teo Chee Hean. Twenty-five years later, it has become a Maritime Force for a Maritime Nation, because the past, present and future of Singapore is very much a maritime story. It is with this story that the RSN celebrated its Golden Jubilee with Singapore’s inaugural International Maritime Review at RSS Singapura – Changi Naval Base on 15 May 2017.
Here we present all the participants of the Sea Review in their order of appearence:-
RSS Vigilance, Republic of Singapore NavySLNS Nandimithra, Sri Lanka NavyBNS Shadhinota, Bangladesh NavyKDB Darussalam, Royal Brunei NavyRSS Daring, Republic of Singapore NavyKRI Sultan Hasanuddin, Indonesian NavyFS Prairial, French NavyVPNS Dinh Tien Hoang, Vietnam People’s NavyUMS King Sin Phyu Shin, Myanmar NavyINS Kamorta, Indian NavyRSS Punggol, Republic of Singapore NavySandbar Shark, Police Coast GuardKD Lekir, Royal Malaysian NavyHTMS Naresuan, Royal Thai NavyBRP Gregorio Del Pilar, Philippine NavyBRP Gregorio Del Pilar, Philippine NavyPNS Zulfiquar, Pakistan NavyHMAS Ballarat, Royal Australian NavyHMNZS Te Kaha, Royal New Zealand NavyRSS Supreme, Republic of Singapore NavyHuangshan, People’s Liberation Army NavyVaryag, Russian NavyHMCS Ottawa, Royal Canadian NavyROKS Dae Jo Yeong, Republic of Korea NavyUSS Sterett, United States NavyJS Sazanami, Japan Maritime Self-Defense ForceRSS Endurance, Republic of Singapore NavySikorsky S-70B Seahawk, Republic of Singapore Air ForceFokker 50 ME2 MPA, Republic of Singapore Air ForceBoeing F-15SG Strike Eagles, Republic of Singapore Air Force