MINDEF – Republic of Singapore Navy

Serving with Courage, Purpose and Passion

Major Jaime Liew safeguards the sea lanes in and out of Singapore as Executive Officer on the RSS Steadfast. Her every action models courage, purpose and passion alongside her crew in the Republic of Singapore Navy.
Mindef - RSN

Major Jaime Liew was awarded the SAF Merit Scholarship (Women) in 2011 and has a Bachelor of Science in International Relations from London School of Economics and Political Science and a Master of Arts in War Studies from King’s College London. She is currently the Executive Officer of RSS Steadfast, a Formidable-class frigate, overseeing operations, training, leadership development and administration.

When asked about her journey with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), Major (MAJ) Jaime Liew did not speak of powerful battleships or exciting missions.

Her answer was down-to-earth yet more profound: “The best people I know in my life are almost all in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), and I would never have met them if I hadn’t signed on.”

MAJ Liew’s naval journey is a trajectory of growth and character-building alongside like-minded comrades dedicated to a single purpose. The RSN has long distinguished itself for its closely-knit family spirit, as working and living together on the sea builds lasting ties between the men and women who serve.

With the RSN, MAJ Liew has forged bonds that go beyond “co-worker” and “colleague” – they are comrades-in-arms, fighting to protect Singapore.

The First Choice, the Only Choice

“I went to a scholarship tea session and heard a female naval officer speak. She showed a picture of an RSN frigate and said, this is my ship, there are 80 people on it and I would trust every single one of them with my life,” recalled MAJ Liew.

“I think that’s something not everybody can say about their jobs.”

Those words remained with her as she knew she wanted to dedicate her life to something more than profits or balances. So, she pursued a career in the RSN with a single-minded sense of purpose, eschewing any other possibility.

Her unwavering passion and strong leadership qualities were recognised in the form of the SAF Merit Scholarship (Women) which she received in 2011.

“Other companies focus on profits and economic gain, but the RSN deals in values, leadership, and character. I am a better person for having known them, and it is my responsibility and my greatest reward to pay forward what they have invested in me.” Major (MAJ) Jaime Liew

Driven by a Purpose

Determined to equip herself for the job, MAJ Liew read International Relations from the London School of Economics, and also received a master’s degree in War Studies from King’s College London.

International Relations taught her to understand the strategic impact of military actions, no matter how tactical; while War Studies gave her an in-depth look into the conduct, experience and lessons of war across millennia. Though the technical nomenclature may not find use on the day-to-day of running a ship, MAJ Liew found the basic principles of naval warfare applicable to her work.

“Why do I do naval patrol? Why do I deploy to far-flung countries to participate in a multilateral air defense exercise? What we do has political ramifications on an international stage and knowing this gives my work purpose,” she reflected.

She also learned important lessons on living independently during her overseas studies. “Studying overseas broadened my imagination and helped me discover new interests. It also exposed me to many ways of thinking, and made me critically examine many beliefs and assumptions that I had never questioned growing up in Singapore.”

“This has made me a more empathetic and socially-sensitive individual.”

Home on the Sea

Upon her return, she has been appointed to several appointments before taking on her current appointment as Executive Officer of RSS Steadfast, a Formidable-class frigate. She supports the ship’s commanding officer and oversees all aspects of the ship which include operations, training, leadership development and administration.

MAJ Liew is proud to be on RSS Steadfast. Since its commissioning, RSS Steadfast has been blazing a trail across the seas – from being the first RSN ship to participate in multinational Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) in the waters off Hawaii in 2008, to participate in bilateral and multilateral exercises across the region.

MAJ Liew attributes the achievements to the commitment and camaraderie of the tightly-knitted crew. Indeed, MAJ Liew constantly emphasised the family-like ambiance of the RSN. “What makes the RSN special to me is that we are a people-focused organisation.”

“Other companies focus on profits and economic gain, but the RSN emphasises values, leadership, and character. I am a better person for having known them, and it is my responsibility and my greatest reward to pay forward what they have invested in me.”

In this vein, it comes as no surprise that her ambition is to command a ship of her own. “I look forward to take command some day,” she smiled. “It’s the pinnacle position of authority on a naval warship and with it comes immeasurable opportunities to directly impact the lives of my crew. I would be humbled to take on this responsibility.”

Welcoming New Crew

She also looks forward to welcoming new sailors into the Navy family. MAJ Liew pointed out that she herself was “surprised” that she considered military training but has never regretted her path.

“I vividly remember thinking to myself that if I didn’t at least try Basic Military Training, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I was curious to find out what kind of person I was, and whether I could withstand a different type of hardship. So, I’d say my only advice is if you think you’re going to regret not trying, go for it.”

After all, according to her, what you need to excel in the RSN boils down to: “A whole heap of courage, a truckload of humility and a sprinkling of good humour!”

With that in mind, it is all aboard!