Republic of Singapore Navy
MINDEF Cluster | RSN

Family First

Behind the Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN) advanced fleet of ships is a crew of close-knit and highly trained sailors like Major (MAJ) Kan Shengyao, David, who work tirelessly to ensure that Singapore’s waters are well-protected against any threat.

MAJ Kan Shengyao, David, Executive Officer of RSS Intrepid, helps to ensure that the ship is operating optimally. He is a SAF Overseas Scholar with a Master’s in Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) from the University of Cambridge

The mission of the RSN is to provide for the seaward defence of the country and ensures the safety and security of Singapore’s vital sea lines of communication. This involves maintaining a continuous and comprehensive surveillance in the Singapore Strait, thus keeping the waters of Singapore safe and secure for all.

Suffice to say, the RSN would naturally entice those who have an affinity with the sea to join its ranks. As an avid sailor, water polo player and swimmer during his school days, MAJ Kan was naturally attracted to the sea and a career with the RSN.

Joining the fleet

However, what really drew the 31-year old to join the RSN was the strong sense of family spirit and the exciting opportunities that only the RSN could provide.

“This is because being a Navy sailor puts you in a tightly knitted group comprising people from all ages and backgrounds. They are mostly regulars ranging from 18 to 60 years old and not young national servicemen who had just enlisted,” he explained.

He added: “I found that the Navy was able to offer interesting and dynamic work opportunities and allowed me to work with different people.”

After MAJ Kan was awarded the SAF Overseas Scholarship in 2007, he went on to pursue a Bachelor of Arts and Masters in Engineering at the University of Cambridge.

“The scholarship was more of a bonus, as it allowed me to study overseas which my mother would not have been able to afford and provided me with the chance to meet and learn from people from the civil service and other countries.”

In particular, the skills and experience he picked up while studying the Master’s programme in Mechanical Engineering primed him for his career with the RSN.

MAJ Kan Shengyao, David | SAF Overseas Scholar

“Being trained as an engineer equips you with a systematic approach in dealing with matters. I find myself relying on these foundations whenever I am tasked with an unfamiliar assignment or trying to solve an issue. It allows me to identify the crux of the issue and marshal resources effectively.”

He also said that his overseas stint taught him how to influence and work with people from different cultures and backgrounds.

“This proved to be an essential leadership skill to motivate my peers towards a common goal and understanding their passion and concerns.”

Life on board RSS Intrepid

Indeed, this has proven to be very useful for his current role as the Executive Officer of the RSS Intrepid. Apart from being one of the Anti-Air Warfare Officers on board the ship, he is also the Crisis Manager. MAJ Kan is responsible for handling any crisis that occurs on board the ship during war time so that the Commanding Officer can focus on fighting the battle.

“On a day-to-day basis, I oversee the training, manpower matters, morale and discipline of the ship. All these are essential to prepare our people best to fight the ship well in peacetime, periods of tension and war.

“The most gratifying aspect of my job is enabling my ship crew to realise their full potential through training and guidance.” MAJ Kan

The most gratifying aspect of my job is enabling my ship crew to realise their full potential through training and guidance. This is made more apparent when everyone comes together for a common purpose and we discover that as a team, we are able to punch far above our weight.”

While MAJ Kan is at ease with his work family at sea, he is still coming to terms with being away from his own family.

“For my most recent deployment to Guam which was for five weeks, it was particularly difficult because this is the longest that I have been away from my two-year-old daughter. However, technology has improved, and we do what we can to give our people means to contact home via satellite phone calls and data, albeit limited in bandwidth,” he said.

And with that in mind, MAJ Kan is focused on moving on to greater things within the RSN such as assuming command of a warship and continuing to fight for the family members, both on and off the ship.