Got a special email invitation to sail with the Republic of Singapore Navy in January and the first thing that came to my mind was, can I bring Xavier along?
This year marks a year of celebration for Singapore as its our 50th year of independence. Woohoo SG50! It is also the 50th year since the formation of our Singapore Armed Forces. Woohoo SAF50!
SAF50@Vivo kicks-off the year-long celebration with awesome display of military hardware, exciting stories to share, fun activities to engage in and special performances. One of the major exhibit is one of our Landing Ship Tank (LST), the RSS Endurance.
Hence you can see why I was so excited when I receive the invitation to sail on one of Singapore’s biggest warship. But I wanted to bring Xavier along, to share this special experience with him. After a few emails, Xavier is clear to go too. Time to apply for my leave.
This trip is like a mini treasure hunt for information about life in the Navy and what’s it like to sail in the big ship. There were a number of navy officers who takes on the role of ambassadors to bring us on a tour of the LST and explain various aspect of life in the Navy. Colonel Thng, 191 Squadron Commander, encourage us to ask and find out more information these ambassadors.
One of the terms Xavier learnt quickly is “Heads”, which stands for toilet on the ship. He had to visit the Heads fairly often. After several briefings by the various commanders, we are ready to “slip off”.
Bigger ships like the RSS Endurance has got bow thrusters to help the ship to turn. But it still need help from the tug boat to turn before we could set sail.
On the other side of the naval base lays the Formidable-class frigates, read stealth ships.
As we sets sail, we begin our tour of the Great RSS Endurance. Here’s several of us engaging the ambassadors.
The main gun on the RSS Endurance is this 76mm Oto Melara super rapid gun. The ship also have “medals” painted on for each international mission it completed.
Spotted several different kind of ships when we were sailing. Ships on their way to delivery new cars, ships carrying many containers, ships carrying natural gas, even sampans with fisherman.
RSS Endurance has room to land two Super Pumas or even a Chinook. She has one of the Super Pumas secured on the deck level.
The ambassadors spoke fondly of their love for good food during their deployment in the open sea and how much they appreciate the cooks. Their cooks are trained at Shatec and are able to wipe out delicious food, even local delights like Bak Kut Teh and Hainanese Chicken Rice while in rough sea. They took us on a mini tour of the kitchen as well as the area where they have their meals.
Next we visited the Bridge. This is where the crew set the course and navigates the ship. We were told to keep our volume down as the crew needed full concentration to navigate a narrow path as we approach Vivocity. The blinking lights, the digital display, it almost felt like a computer game.
Next they showed us where the two Fast Craft Utility (FCU) are. The big area allows the crew to store their supplies for long mission, or to bring down the helicopter if needed.
As we approach Vivocity, we were out at the landing deck taking pictures of the surrounding. It is not often that you get an opportunity like this to take pictures from different angle.
Xavier was fairly hungry when we docked hence we didn’t check out the booth while they are setting it up. But below are the information for the SAF50@Vivo.
Held at VivoCity from 12 to 15 February 2015, the SAF’s three Services (Army, Navy and Air Force) will come together for an experiential display of military hardware, stories and special performances. For more information, visit www.saf50years.sg.
You can ballot for tickets to go onboard the RSS Endurance, or take a ride out to sea on the FCUs too. There are also several performances available at the event, guest appearance by the crew from Ah Boys to Men 3, and several contests going on where you can win prizes so do check out the website for more information.
Xavier and I would like to give a big thank you to the Singapore Navy for inviting us to this truly unforgettable experience. In fact, Xavier been talking about the trip to his classmates non-stop today.