Earlier this week, we were very privileged to be invited to spend the afternoon at Changi Naval Base.
As Singapore is situated along major international trade routes, Changi Naval Base plays a very important role in the protection of ships and has hosted naval vessels from many other countries such as the US, France, UK, Australia, China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea and Pakistan, all of whom rely on the base for repair facilities, supplies, administration and logistics support.
We began our visit with a tour of the Navy Museum, which is right outside to Changi Naval Base and is open to the public.
We were accompanied through the museum by a couple of friendly sailors, who were able to tell us more about daily life onboard the ships and submarines. Little E was in awe of the female officer who talked to us about the challenges that sailors have to overcome during training.
The children were absolutely fascinated by all the interactive exhibits and simulators which helped them to learn more about how the Singapore Navy came to be the modern maritime fighting force that it is today.
J even had a chance to try on the Naval Officer’s uniform! (There was a women’s uniform for Little E too but she didn’t fancy it.)
After exploring the Bofor and Oerlikon guns indoors (with the kids from Tan Family Chronicles) and admiring the hundreds of plaques received from navies from around the globe, we headed to the outdoor gallery to take a look at some retired weapons from decommissioned ships. Outside, the kids were encouraged to climb onto the old guns and get a feel of how the naval gunners operated them!
The Singapore Navy is also involved in numerous humanitarian operations around the world. We learned about how the Singapore Armed Forces provided disaster relief and humanitarian assistance to the victims of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami in Indonesia, as well as in Northern Arabian Gulf to support the post-war reconstruction of Iraq.
J and Little E were most intrigued by the counter-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden, Operation Blue Sapphire, and were very excited to learn that we would be privy to the slipping off ceremony of the RSS Tenacious, a frigate with a Sikorsky S-70B naval helicopter on board, which will be helping safeguard ships transiting through that busy trade route.
The Gulf of Aden is known as ‘Pirate Alley’ and pirates are known to chase after cargo ships, sometimes even kidnapping the ship’s crew and hold them for ransom. As this waterway is vital for sea trade, the Republic of Singapore Navy has been working together with other navies in the international community to keep the Arabian Sea safe and ensure freedom of navigation in that region.
It was heartbreaking to see the 151 brave crew members of the RSS Tenacious wave goodbye to their families, whom they will not see for the next three months. Many of the crew members had young children who were shouting ‘Goodbye Mummy!’ and ‘Goodbye Daddy!’ as the frigate set sail.
The RSS Tenacious is Formidable-class frigate, and despite its enormous build, it is a stealth vessel and is built in such a way that its radar signature is equivalent to that of a rowing boat! Additionally, the pale grey colour of ship allows it to blend into the horizon, making it virtually invisible.
Even with the ship’s engine running at full tilt, all we could hear from a few metres away was a faint humming noise, and as you can see from the image above, the ship hardly makes any waves at all as it slides through the water! It is no wonder that the RSS Tenacious is also called a stealth frigate!
You can find out more about the RSS Tenacious and Operation Blue Sapphire at the Sea of Support website where you can also drop a line to encourage the 151 crew members on board the ship!
After the RSS Tenacious headed off into the horizon, we hopped on a bus for a tour of the Naval Base.
J and Little E were excited to see all the different vessels berthed in the harbour, especially black submarines and the orange-hulled MV Swift Rescue, a submarine support vessel carrying the submersible rescue vessel, Deep Search and Rescue Six. The MV Swift Rescue had just returned from the unsuccessful search and locate operation for the missing Beijing-bound Malaysian Airlines plane (MH370).
The Navy Museum is open from 9am – 5pm on Mondays to Fridays and 9am – 3pm on Saturday.
Admission to the museum is FREE!
The Navy Museum: 112 Tanah Merah Coast Road (Next to SAF Yacht Club)
You can follow the Republic of Singapore Navy on their Facebook Page for information about upcoming Navy events, such as the Navy Open House or public visit and outreach programmes.