Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN)
Features | National & Home Defence

The Guardians
Of Our Seas

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) is the ever-present defenders of our waters, committed to its mission to provide for our seaward defence and ensure the safety and security of our vital sea lines of communication.

As a country that is surrounded by water, the survival of our nation is heavily dependent on the safety and security of the seas. As one of the world’s busiest ports and a global trading hub, Singapore is particularly susceptible to threats.

The RSN ensures stability by safeguarding Singapore’s territorial waters. It acts with diligence and fervour, moving swiftly and effectively to mitigate any threat that arises. Brave men and women of the RSN such as CPT Tung Wanling and CPT Charlene Tan have been dedicating their days and nights to keep our seas safe. We talk to them to find out more about their roles in maintaining order in our waters.

Vigilant defenders

Playing an important part in the defence of our territorial waters is RSS Sovereignty, one of the Fearless-class patrol vessels in the RSN. The Executive Officer of the ship, CPT Tan beams with pride while discussing the vessel. “The patrol vessels may not be the largest ships in the RSN but we play an important role in safeguarding our territorial waters, defending the sovereignty of Singapore,” she shares.

As the second in command of the ship, CPT Tan sees herself as a facilitator and a catalyst. She tells us, “It is my responsibility as a facilitator to help everyone to excel in their roles so that we can complete every mission successfully and safely. As a catalyst, I try to look critically at how we do things on the ship and introduce ways to continually improve.”

CPT Tung Wanling
SAF Merit Scholar

Designation: Operations Officer, RSS Formidable

Studied: Master of Science in Neuroscience,
University of Oxford, UK

Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience,
University College London, UK

"The RSN is coming up with new capabilities and is also looking into how we can continue to grow with the changing demographics and landscape. I am looking forward to developing and seeing these capabilities come into fruition."

Another part of the RSN’s arsenal is the Formidable-class frigates, the principal strike craft. Equipped with state of the art weapons and electronics, the frigates are multi-mission warships that are capable of dealing with multidimensional naval threats from the air, surface or underwater. The first of the class, RSS Formidable was launched in 2004 and was commissioned in 2007.

Working as the Operations Officer of RSS Formidable, CPT Tung tells us that her job is about being precise and detail-oriented. She says, “In order to carry out a mission successfully and ensure the safety of the crew, I have to be precise because any mistake made can be costly. And in order to understand the finer details of a mission, meticulous work and critical analysis during the preparation and execution of tasks are necessary – allowing me to make better judgements, and consequently, better decisions.”

A plethora of experiences

Both servicewomen attest to the fact that life in the RSN is never dull. Every single day is always a new adventure with many exciting opportunities awaiting them.

CPT Tan has no shortage of stories to tell, but the ones that she treasures the most are the bonds she has built with her comrades. She fondly recalls, “I had a crew member who had problems adjusting to shipboard life when he was first posted on-board. But when he reached the end of his NS term, he told me that he had truly enjoyed the time that he spent on RSS Sovereignty. Despite having to spend time away from home due to all the trainings and sailings, he was happy to be able to contribute. He even said that he had found a second family on the ship, and that really touched my heart.”

For CPT Tung, she enjoys all the opportunities that the RSN has given her to discover new things. She tells us about the time as an International Officer on board the ROKN Choi Young (DDH-981) – a Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin class destroyer. She recounts, “It was the year 2009, and I was attached to the ROKN Choi Young for 30 days. All the things I got to see made for a very memorable experience. I joined the ship at its port of call in Toulon, France. We sailed across the Mediterranean Sea and docked at Alexandria, Egypt for 5 days before transiting the Suez Canal to the next port of call at Djibouti. Thereafter, we journeyed across the Indian Ocean with sea states up to Sea State 7, with wave height of six to nine metres high. I’ve learnt quite a bit from the attachment. It allowed me to gain an understanding of the ROKN’s organisational structure and strong traditional military culture. I also got a glimpse of their way of fighting a battle and the various aspects of their training methods,” she says.

CPT Charlene Tan
SAF Academic Scholar

Designation: Executive Officer, RSS Sovereignty

Studied: Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Public Policy,
New York University, US

Beyond the horizons

Many great things await in the RSN. Looking ahead, CPT Tan is hopeful for the future. She says, “The RSN is coming up with new capabilities and is also looking into how we can continue to grow with the changing demographics and landscape. I am looking forward to developing and seeing these capabilities come into fruition. I look forward to the prospect of commanding a ship in the future.”

For aspiring scholars, CPT Tan advises, “Demonstrate the resilience and perseverance to achieve your goals, even in times of adversity. You must have the passion to excel and the grit to see it through.”

“A career with the RSN is exciting and rewarding, but you will have to be prepared for the unique challenges of being a military officer in the RSN. If you love challenges and pushing your limits, and want to contribute to the defence and continued prosperity of Singapore, then a career with the RSN is for you.”

CPT Tung adds, “Be professional at work and always remember to care for your ship crew. A career in the RSN is challenging and enriching. You will contribute to the safeguarding of the nation, a place that holds all that I love and all that I am loved by, making it worth being committed to. If you think the same, then take the plunge and join us.”