ME4 Chua is the SME of RSS Conqueror. He was awarded the SAF Engineering Scholarship in 2011 and holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Edinburgh and a Master of Philosophy in Engineering for Sustainable Development from the University of Cambridge.
Singapore is a maritime nation and the seas are our economic lifeline. The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) works closely with internal and external maritime agencies to keep our waters safe 24/7 from all forms of threats to our nation’s maritime security, including terrorism, piracy and illegal immigration.
Choosing to Serve
Military Expert 4 (ME4) Lloyd Chua is the Senior Marine Engineer (SME) of RSS Conqueror, one of our four Challenger-class submarines. In an interview with BrightSparks, ME4 Chua describes his pride and passion in serving our nation.
“Joining the RSN allowed me to contribute to something bigger – there is no higher calling than defending our nation,” ME4 Chua tells us. “The RSN presented me with the opportunity to apply my passion for science and engineering in a unique environment and work with interesting platforms and systems.”
ME4 Chua could have applied his knowledge and skills as an engineer in a myriad of industries, but he chose the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) because of the opportunities offered by the organisation to expand his horizons.
He elaborates: “Compared to a civilian engineer, being a military engineer requires you to develop important leadership skillsets exclusive to the nature of our operations. Even as an engineer, you may be required to lead men and women out in the field at the frontlines, or in my case, lead a team within a submarine’s crew to achieve a mission. It was this exceptional aspect of the military that drew me towards an engineering career with the SAF.”
He was offered the SAF Engineering Scholarship in 2011. With that, he studied and attained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Engineering from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Cambridge, respectively.
Work in the Sea
Currently as the SME of RSS Conqueror, he leads a team of six submarine engineers and technicians that maintain the systems and readiness of the submarine. Out at sea, they sustain and operate the submarine together with a crew of submariners to ensure that it remains in optimal condition throughout the deployment.
ME4 Chua’s work directly contributes to the safety of those on board the RSS Conqueror. “The nautical seascape is relentless, and the underwater environment even more unforgiving. On board a submarine, the hull is the only thing that separates us from the immense pressures exerted by the ocean,” he explains. “The crew becomes solely dependent on the submarine and her life-support systems for survival, so strict and robust controls over engineering and maintenance processes are absolutely essential for our safety.”
He also serves as the submarine’s Diving Officer, responsible for calculating the exact amount of water the submarine needs to dive safely and successfully. Submarines float on the ocean like any other ship, and must take in the correct amount of water to go beneath the surface. Any mistakes in calculation spell trouble – the submarine could become too heavy and sink uncontrollably towards the bottom.
“I do not remember physics in the classroom ever being practiced at such high-stakes or with such immediate consequences! No amount of training can prepare you for the sense of responsibility you feel when you take your first dive as a submarine Diving Officer. You just have to put your faith in your people and yourself.”
“Nailing my first dive perfectly was the most nerve-racking and proudest moment of my career.”
Diving towards the Future
ME4 Chua is enthusiastic about the possibilities ahead of him within the RSN. “Furthermore, the RSN will be welcoming back four new Type 218SG submarines in the near future, and they will be among the most sophisticated submarines in the world. Having the chance to work with these state-of-the-art platforms is incredibly exciting.”
But apart from working with some of the most advanced naval technology in the world, a career with the RSN also provides opportunities for further development. “The SAF is an organisation that places emphasis and invests in people development like no other,” he says assuredly.
He leaves us with some sound advice. “If you want to pursue a dynamic engineering career that offers opportunities to apply engineering in highly interdisciplinary environments, you should consider joining the SAF.”