W hen CPT Charisia Ong was deliberating over her future career, she knew it had to fulfil two criteria – give her the opportunity to contribute to the country that has provided her with high standards of education and security, and to work beyond the boundaries of an office desk. With the knowledge that a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Merit Scholarship would fulfil her aspirations, she seized the chance and applied for the scholarship.
While in Officer Cadet School (OCS), CPT Ong’s Midshipmen Sea Training Deployment further deepened her passion in a military career. “Being able to sail on an actual warship and see our rigorous training in OCS applied practically in the daily shipboard routine affirmed my choice of work. It was no longer a career that I had found, but a calling,” she tells us.
One Crew, One Family
Today, CPT Ong is an Assistant Operations Officer (AOPS) on RSS Freedom. She is in charge of the Weapon Systems on board the Patrol Vessel such as the 76mm OTO Melara and the newest addition, the 25mm Typhoon Gun. She also supports the development of her crew members, adding that this aspect of her role is the most important.
She shares, “Helping them grow professionally and developing their strengths is paramount to preserving the operational readiness of RSS Freedom. The best systems will not be fully optimised without competent and dependable people operating them.”
With her crew, she has accumulated experiences that are truly unique to an RSN career. She has weathered stormy seas with her ship crew, and to this day remembers her first experience with rough seas when she was a young officer on board one of the Missile Corvettes. “It was like a never-ending roller coaster ride,” she recalls. “The Officer of the Watch was teaching me how to steer the ship such that I maximised the period transiting through calm seas and minimised the pounding of the ship. Overall, I cherish how the entire crew went through these stormy periods together and came out even tighter and stronger,” CPT Ong tells us.
Humility to Learn
CPT Ong sees her ship crew as family and supportive people with whom she has shared her best and challenging moments. “We know we can depend on one another to be there when push comes to shove. It is a culture that is built out of a commitment to be dependable and trustworthy,” she shares.
Having lived with and learnt from the crew under her charge, CPT Ong leaves those who wish to join her some advice. She concludes modestly, “Be humble so that you will learn from those who are willing to teach and impart. Many of them have had far-reaching experiences gathered from a wealth of sea time that we cannot miss the opportunity to learn from. I believe that each sailor we meet, whether junior or senior to us, always has something to teach us and we will only reap the benefits of these encounters if we are willing to remain humble and teachable.”