The RSN has come far in the last 50 years, rising from its birth with just two wooden ships to become one of the most admired naval forces in the region. Today, the RSN boasts a fleet of state-of-the-art warships which is capable of defending Singapore’s vital sea lanes.
At the heart of a capable RSN today are generations of sailors, whose hard work and dedication have helped build an RSN that stands ready and committed in the defence of Singapore. One of whom is Captain (CPT) Dominic Lew, who shares with us what it means to serve in the RSN.
The Heart to Serve
CPT Lew knew from the get-go that he wanted a career that was more than just a job. “I had spent some time training in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) before I decided to take up the SAF Merit Scholarship. This gave me the chance to develop a better understanding of the SAF and what being an SAF officer entailed. What resonated with me was the strong sense of purpose in the job, stemming from both the SAF’s mission and the people that we serve.” He went on to pursue a Bachelor in Economics at the University of Warwick and Masters in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University.
Today, CPT Lew serves as the Assistant Operations Officer on board the RSS Persistence (Endurance-class Landing Ship Tank). “I am responsible for the training, morale, and discipline of the Weapons department. When the ship is not sailing, I assist in planning the ship’s deployments and run the ship’s routine – which can include training and maintenance. At sea, I perform various functions such as steering the ship, conducting deck operations, directing the weapons and controlling the aircraft. Fundamentally, my job is about contributing to the ship’s operational readiness so that the ship is able to deliver the outcomes when called upon to serve,” CPT Lew elaborates.
With all the responsibilities the position entails, CPT Lew’s job is certainly not a walk in the park, but he tells us that it is all worth it. He shares, “There are things such as long deployments which make this job challenging at times. But I am heartened whenever the team pulls together to achieve our objectives at sea, and that makes our deployments meaningful. More importantly, the work I do contributes directly to the seaward defence of Singapore, and that makes all sacrifices worthwhile.”
CPT Dominic Lew Kwong Hoe
SAF Merit Scholar
Assistant Operations Officer, RSS Persistence (Endurance-class Landing Ship Tank)
Hardly a day goes by without something exciting happening when you have a career in the RSN. For CPT Lew, his time with the RSN has been full of memorable experiences and accomplishments, such as the Fleet’s Southern Friendship Deployment to Australia’s Shoalwater Bay Training Area in 2017, where he was deployed as the Task Group’s Assistant Operations Officer for the Ship-to-Shore exercise as part of Exercise Wallaby.
“As the exercise involved training with the Army and Air Force, it exposed me to the requirements and challenges of conducting joint training. It demonstrated how the SAF remains committed to advancing our capabilities and improving our joint readiness. Being in-theatre also allowed me to better appreciate the value of being able to train in realistic and tough conditions overseas like in Shoalwater Bay.”
Another highlight in his career was the inaugural International Maritime Review held in Singapore in commemoration of the RSN’s Golden Jubilee in May 2017. “I was privileged to be part of the Organising Secretariat to help put together the review. The large turnout of foreign Navy Chiefs and warships struck me as a testament of the RSN’s achievement over the years. It reinforced the sense of purpose in me to continue the good work of our predecessors,” he says with pride.
What’s on the Horizon
CPT Lew believes that he is standing on the shoulders of giants – the pioneers that preceded him. “The RSN is and continues to be the maritime force for our maritime nation. That means we continually strive to be smarter, sharper, and stronger in all aspects so that we are well-positioned to safeguard our maritime interests,” he says.
Looking forward to what the future will bring, CPT Lew believes that many good things await him on the horizon. He explains, “I am going to continue developing and honing my skills as a Naval Officer, and aspire to take on the mantle of commanding a warship in the future.”
“There is much to learn in a career with the RSN – this could range from understanding human resource policies to help develop your crew, to learning how to plan for successful operations at sea. I think it is important to recognise one’s limitations and find out how to overcome them in order to be effective,” he elaborates.
For people who wish to follow in his footsteps, CPT Lew advises them to have grit and determination. He articulates, “To excel in roles like mine, one needs to have the clarity of thought and be effective in communication – both in planning and execution. This is especially crucial in a fast-paced, uncertain and complex operating environment. And as with most jobs, a healthy dose of adaptability, resilience and thoroughness is also important.”
CPT Lew encourages like-minded people to seriously consider a career in the military. “A career with the RSN can be challenging, but if you resonate with our mission and have a heart to serve others, I think you would find it immensely rewarding,” he concludes.