O n 28 December 2014, AirAsia Flight QZ8501 disappeared from radar. To aid in the search, dedicated RSN personnel cancelled New Year’s plans with their loved ones to scan the oceans day after day, determined to bring some luminosity to a gloomy situation.
As the CO of RSS Supreme, a Formidable-class frigate, LTC Sean Wat remembers this incident with clarity. “When we departed that night, we did not know when we would be coming back or what we could find when we reached the crash site at the Java Sea,” he recalls. “We were deployed for about one and a half weeks and I was struck by the quiet determination of the crew who went about their duties. Despite the uncertainty and long hours, no one complained about their cancelled holidays or missed gatherings. We kept in mind the mission and did our best to recover pieces of aeroplane parts, knowing that these things would help to bring closure to the families of the passengers.”
Witnessing his colleagues’ commitment has strengthened his own. “When you have the whole ship believing in the spirit of excellence and giving their best, it becomes a highly motivated and mission-ready ship. This enables the RSN to accomplish missions with the highest level of dedication and quality,” LTC Sean tells us with pride.
Personal and Team Development
LTC Sean’s unique and fulfilling career with the RSN has greatly strengthened his character and leadership which allowed him to contribute to the defence of our nation. As the CO of RSS Supreme, he is responsible for the training, operational readiness and morale of his ship and crew. This means ensuring that his crew is well-trained and motivated to undertake tasks given to them, and that equipment and systems on the ship are kept at the highest levels of readiness.
LTC Sean Wat Jianwen
Recipient of The SAF Scholarship (formerly known as SAF Overseas Scholarship)
Commanding Officer, RSS Supreme
Dynamism of a Naval Career
LTC Sean advocates a career in the RSN by emphasising the vast variety of roles available, “I find that the opportunity to go through operational and staff tours makes the career very interesting. For example, I could be driving the ship and interacting with our foreign naval partners on one day, and on the next day, I could be working to identify ships that the RSN should buy over the next 10 to 20 years. There are many facets to the career which provide a varied and exciting proposition.”
LTC Sean recalls one of deployments to the Gulf of Aden as a Battle Watch Captain. He was involved in coordinating the responses of naval warships to reports of pirate attacks. “Out there in the Gulf, it dawned on me that every pirate attack we managed to foil meant another person is able to return to his/her family. It was a very meaningful deployment,” says LTC Sean.
On the dynamics of his role, LTC Sean shares, “There is never a dull moment in the RSN. Indeed, no two days are the same for me.”
One Team, One Navy
LTC Sean highlights that the shipboard environment is one that fosters and nurtures close bonds among crew members. “During deployment, all you have is that 114-metre space that you share with 80 other shipmates. We work together, eat together, and share cabins together. I have always believed that before we can be a team, we must first be a family. This is one of the things that I have always emphasised to my crew,” LTC Sean says.
For those who wish to join MINDEF/SAF, LTC Sean advises, “At the core, one must believe in the mission and purpose of the organisation, and the need to ensure the defence of Singapore. I think being in MINDEF/SAF also requires good diplomatic skills. When Naval Officers sail to another country, we become ambassadors of our country. We cross oceans to make friends and it is a key aspect of what we do.”