As a tiny maritime nation that is heavily dependent on trade, the safety and security of Singapore’s waters are crucial to ensuring that we continue to enjoy stability and prosperity in the long run.
To do so, the RSN maintains a constant presence in Singapore’s waters, combining comprehensive surveillance with close co-ordination with other government and maritime agencies to enhance security in our waters. And by conducting exercises with foreign navies in the region and beyond, the RSN builds up confidence and trust in defence relations through defence co-operation and diplomacy.
Should any threats arise, the RSN moves swiftly and effectively to mitigate these threats and restore calm at sea. Behind this effective naval defence force is a group of dedicated officers and servicemen and women who possess an unwavering commitment to the RSN’s mission. RSN officers SLTC Vince Tan and MAJ Ng Zi Ming tell us about their experiences in the Navy and their role in maintaining order on the high seas.
SLTC Vince Tan
SAF Academic Scholar (Local)
Designation: Commanding Officer, 182/189 SQN
Studied: Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering), Nanyang Technological University
Defending the Everyday Lives of Singaporeans
As Commanding Officer of the Patrol Vessel Squadron (182/189 SQN), SLTC Tan is responsible for raising, training and sustaining the squadron at the highest level of operational readiness. He elaborates, “Aided by my squadron staff, my job is to put in place a system that equips the squadron with the right knowledge, skills and experience to confront the myriad of maritime security threats in the region, ranging from theft to piracy and terrorism.
“Every crew stays true to our motto to be always ‘Vigilant in Defence’. They know that it is our duty and an honour to enable Singapore to sleep safe while we stand watch over our waters, rain or shine.”
On MAJ Ng’s part, he was tasked with the training of the RSN servicemen and women under his charge when he was the Executive Officer of RSS Valiant (Missile Corvette). MAJ Ng was the second-in-command of the vessel and took charge of the operations, training and welfare of the crew on board his ship.
“As second-in-command, I was responsible for decisions which impact the purpose, meaning and schedule of my crew’s daily work and welfare. My responsibilities were broad, ranging from playing simulated tactical games where you command a fleet of ships to navigating our ship in the Singapore Straits at speeds up to 50 kilometres an hour. I also met with my foreign counterparts to plan bilateral exercises and had private chats with my crew to understand them better,” he shares.
“The Missile Corvette plays a critical role in ensuring the seaward defence of Singapore. We constantly hone our capabilities and train with both RSN ships and our foreign counterparts to ensure that our competency levels meet the criteria required for mission success,” he says with visible pride.
MAJ Ng has since moved on to a new appointment. He is currently a Staff Officer in the Defence Policy Office. His duties include managing Singapore’s defence relations with its neighbours and key defence partners.
A Multitude of Experiences
Both SLTC Tan and MAJ Ng are quick to testify to the opportunities they have enjoyed under their scholarships. An engineer by training, SLTC Tan pursued a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) at Nanyang Technological University under the SAF Academic Scholarship (Local).
MAJ Ng Zi Ming
SAF Overseas Scholar
Designation: Staff Officer, Defence Policy Office
Studied: Master of Arts in International and Development Economics, Yale University, US
Bachelor of Science in Economics,
University College London, UK
“I have acquired a high level of technical competency that allows me to operate our ships. As a naval war-fighter, I have also developed sound critical-thinking skills to reason, formulate concepts and overcome challenges confronting the squadron in today’s evolving security landscape,” he tells us.
And as a navy with a strong international presence, the RSN has afforded SLTC Tan the opportunity to gain valuable experience abroad as part of its overseas missions and training programmes. He recalls, “I was privileged to represent the RSN for a one-year Indonesian Navy Command and Staff Course in Jakarta, where I acquired valuable military and cultural knowledge from my Indonesian classmates and the eight International Officers from Australia, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and the US. The course has indeed equipped me well to work alongside foreign navies and build mutual understanding and close co-operation for a stable and secure region.
“I also participated in a three-month counter-piracy mission on board RSS Intrepid in the Gulf of Aden in 2012. As the Commanding Officer, I had to ensure that both my men and ship were ready for an operation that was so far from home. United by our sense of purpose and belonging, we rallied together to fly the Singapore flag high and achieved a successful mission.”
For MAJ Ng, the SAF Overseas Scholar recalls innumerable episodes over the course of his scholarship and career that have helped to define and shape him as a person. He tells us, smiling, “The scholarship allowed me to attend civil service courses such as the Administrative Officer Foundation Course. One highlight of the course was being able to travel to Malaysia, the Philippines and Cambodia and interact with the civil servants there to understand their unique perspectives.”
When pressed for further details, he laughs, saying, “It’s hard to identify specific incidents because everything has just been so fulfilling and insightful. The Navy offers a plethora of experiences, from receptions on board a foreign warship to enjoying the strong breeze at the bridge wing under a starry night, and even the adrenaline rush of executing a surprise attack on simulated enemy forces.”
Turning an Eye to the Future
Seaborne trade is an important lifeline for Singapore. Singapore is a trading hub that depends heavily on maritime trade to sustain our way of life, and any disruption to the sea lines of communication will affect the everyday lives of all Singaporeans. Looking ahead, SLTC Tan stresses the importance of maintaining an effective naval defence force in order to safeguard our livelihood.
He says, “It took our forefathers years of commitment and hard work to turn Singapore into a thriving cosmopolitan city. We cannot take peace for granted and need a strong and credible navy to protect our waterways and way of life.
“The RSN is constantly on the lookout for passionate individuals who believe in the importance of being able to fight for and defend our freedom. If you want a meaningful career that allows you to operate state-of-the-art warships, sail the seven seas and defend your country, the RSN is definitely for you!”
A firm believer in the RSN’s mission, MAJ Ng concludes, “The RSN is truly a capable and versatile force. Over the years, we have carried out successful missions in diplomacy for Singapore’s seaward defence and the broader efforts of the SAF.
“Aspiring SAF scholars who have set their sights on the RSN should be clear about why they want to serve. Once they are certain, they will find in the navy a service that treats its members like family and where close bonds are forged among fellow servicemen and women.”