ME5 Tan Xun Yong led his team of over 20 men as a Senior Marine Engineer with the RSN before pursuing his Master of Science (Industrial Engineering) at Columbia University. He was awarded the SAF Engineering Scholarship in 2009.
A sense of purpose and the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technologies drew Military Expert 5 Tan Xun Yong to an engineering career with the Republic of Singapore Navy, and he hasn’t looked back since.
The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) has one of the most formidable fleets in the region. It is unsurprising, as the country’s economic prosperity is dependent on the free and accessible sea lines in and around its territorial waters.
However, the operational readiness of the ships is reliant on the important work put in by the engineers, who apply their skills and expertise to ensure the advanced naval systems on board the warships are always combat-ready.
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) presented an attractive proposition for Military Expert 5 (ME5) Tan when he was considering a career. He always had a keen interest in how engineering can be applied to create technical feats and was particularly drawn to military systems.
“Besides fielding advanced technologies such as autonomous platforms and stealth, the military is a testbed for many innovations. This is the environment that I wanted to work in and the chance to contribute to future developments as a military engineer appealed to me,” he explained.
Family Spirit and Camaraderie
He applied for the SAF Engineering Scholarship in 2009. While he had the choice to join the other services in the SAF, ME5 Tan opted for the RSN because of its people and the work environment.
“The initial appeal of the RSN was the opportunity to work with a variety of platforms in different environments such as ships, submarines as well as unmanned aircraft and vessels.”
“The clincher, though, was the strong sense of ‘family’ in the RSN, where people take care of each other. The unique opportunity to be deployed as an engineer with the ship and the chance to visit multiple overseas ports was also a plus for me,” he remarked.
A Meaningful Journey
ME5 Tan has taken on a variety of appointments since he embarked on a career with the RSN. One of his most memorial achievements was working with his team and Naval Logistics Command to prepare RSS Endurance (an Endurance-class Landing Ship Tank) for an unforeseen deployment under a tight timeline after a maintenance. It was done swiftly within three months, which was almost half the time of other deployment preparation.
He recalled: “The work needed to get various stakeholders aligned to the timeline was remarkable and it was gratifying when the plan came together.”
ME5 Tan recounted proudly of another time when he worked in Naval Logistics Department and had a chance to influence the design of the Navy’s Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV): “I was on summer break during my undergraduate study and I recall being assigned a research project of a new enclosed mast for the LMV. Fresh from university, I did a complete technical research and I was pleasantly surprised when the new design I had recommended was ultimately adopted.”
ME5 Tan served as a Senior Marine Engineer on board RSS Endurance and led a department of over 20 people before he left for his postgraduate studies at Columbia University. Currently, he is pursuing a Master of Science (Industrial Engineering) to augment his engineering expertise.
On his postgraduate studies, he said: “It was an opportunity to develop myself further and refresh my skills. During the first years as a military engineer, our skills are focused on engineering knowledge - understanding and putting together individual systems.”
“The next stage is where we have to focus on the larger overview of how systems work together and how the systems can be optimized. That requires a broader view of how numerous systems work together and the Masters that I’m pursuing at Columbia University equips me for that.”
The Seafaring Chef
When ME5 Tan is not maintaining naval systems or fleets, he spends his time cooking and baking.
Looking back, ME5 Tan is grateful for the numerous opportunities provided by the RSN and the mentors that have helped him along in his journey.
“In the RSN, when you join as an engineer, you can choose to specialise in technical expertise, logistics or management. In each circumstance, you play to your strength and determine your own path forward with a lot of support from your leaders and mentors.”
Beyond the tangibles, he recommends a career with the RSN if you are driven by a higher sense of purpose.
“Join the RSN if you are interested in serving your country, enjoy engineering as well as technical matters, and working as a team!”