ONWARDS AND UPWARDS: A TIMELINE OF RSN’S HISTORY
5 MAY 1967 HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
The ensign of the Singapore Naval Volunteer Force was flown for the first time, marking the birth of our Navy. Like our young nation, the Navy was born in tumultuous times. Aside from securing our sovereignty, our Navy also had to combat threats posed by sea robbers.
1967 SENTOSA NAVAL BASE
Our first naval base was located at Pulau Blakang Mati, which is now known as Sentosa. At that time, our Navy only had a handful of volunteers and two wooden ships.
1969 TRAINING OUR PIONEERS
The first batch of 160 naval recruits, comprising 20 electricians, 20 engineers and 120 seamen began their formal naval training. Because we didn’t have naval experts, training was conducted by instructors from the Royal New Zealand Navy.
DECEMBER 1970 The “Super Boats”
Singapore’s first of six Independence Class Patrol Vessels, RSS Independence, was commissioned. These well-armed “Super Boats” would form the backbone of our young Navy.
1971 PIONEERING FROGMEN
The SAF Diving Centre was formed with a small group of 16 divers who conducted rudimentary repair work. It was renamed the Naval Diving Unit (NDU) in 1975.
JANUARY 1974 TIME FOR A NEW HOME
Our then Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, officially opened the Brani Naval Base. The centrally located base made it possible for Navy ships to be quickly deployed anywhere within the Singapore Strait.
31 JANUARY 1974 THE LAJU INCIDENT
Four armed men attacked the Shell oil refinery complex on Pulau Bukom, to disrupt the oil supply from Singapore to other countries. They detonated three explosives and hijacked the ferry Laju and held five crew members hostage. Four Navy ships, RSS Sea Hawk, RSS Indepedence and RSS Sovereignty and RSS Daring were mobilised for the mission. The terrorists finally agreed to release the remaining crew members in exchange for a safe passage back to the Middle East.
1974 PACKING A PUNCH
The RSN became the first Navy in the region to fire an anti-ship missile, when it fired the Gabriel Surface-to-Surface Missile.
APRIL 1974 MADE-IN-SINGAPORE LEADERS
The Midshipman School was formed, with a pioneer cohort of 42 Midshipmen. Prior to the formation of Midshipman School, Naval Officer Cadets had to be trained overseas.
JANUARY 1975 SINGAPORE’S POCKET BATTLESHIPS
The RSN commissioned the first three Sea Wolf Class Missile Gun Boats (MGBs). Capable of sinking warships many times their size with the latest radar, electronics and missiles, the MGBs were likened to “pocket battleships”.
MAY 1975 OPERATION THUNDERSTORM
On 2 May 1975, the first SOS distress signal was picked up from a ship carrying 300 people from Indo-China. More vessels continued to stream in over the next 13 days, totalling to 64 ships and 8408 “boat people”. The Navy was called upon to manage the task of providing for the people food and fuel, as well as repairing their vessels. This operation was a huge drain on a growing Navy. This operation also revealed the impetus to ensure that Navy ships be networked via datalink for good situational awareness.
DECEMBER 1975 DOLLAR SHIPS
To boost the SAF’s sealift capabilities, the RSN acquired a squadron of World War II-era County Class Landing Ships Tank (LSTs) from the United States Navy at a token price of a dollar each.
MID-1980S WARRIORS OF THE DEEP
The Naval Diving Unit moved beyond a support role to include combat diving and mine clearance operations. Naval Divers were sent for overseas courses, like the elite SEAL course.
1990 – 1991 Our first strike crafts
Between 1990 and 1991, six Victory Class missile corvettes (MCVs) were commissioned. The introduction of the MCVs helped sharpened the fighting capabilities of the RSN. They were the first class of ship in the RSN to be equipped with anti-submarine capabilities.
October 1995 Launch of our mine-hunters
On 7 October 1995, four Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMVs) named RSS Bedok, RSS Kallang, RSS Katong and RSS Punggol were commissioned at Tuas Naval Base. The MCMVs are fitted with a Precision Navigation System, integrated mine hunting sonar system, information system and mine disposal system to operate intricate operations of mine hunting.
1995 CONQUERING NEW DEPTHS
The RSN’s capabilities took a major step forward when it acquired 4 Challenger Class Submarines from Sweden. These stealthy submarines are armed with heavyweight torpedoes.
1999-2000 International Force for East Timor (INTERFET)
The INTERFET was a multinational peacekeeping taskforce led by Australia in accordance with United Nations resolutions to address the humanitarian and security crisis which took place in East Timor from 1999–2000. The RSN’s old County Class Landing Ships Tank supported the logistics requirement of the International Force for East Timor, transporting the materials from Darwin to Dili through sea-lifts.
MAY 2000 JOURNEY AROUND THE WORLD
True to its name, the RSS Endurance braved heavy seas as it embarked on a four-month, round- the-world deployment. This was the longest and furthest any RSN vessel had ever sailed to date.
7 Jan 2004 WELCOMING THE FIRST FORMIDABLE CLASS FRIGATE
The first of the RSN’s six frigates, RSS Formidable was launched on 7 January 2004. Equipped with advanced sensor and weapon systems, and have enhanced anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare capabilities, the introduction of the frigates enables the RSN to undertake a wide spectrum of missions.
21 MAY 2004 A 21ST CENTURY HOME
Our then Prime Minister, Mr Goh Chok Tong, officially opened the Changi Naval Base. The base has several advanced features, such as an automated underground ammunition depot and an automated warehouse system.
DEC 2004 AIDING OUR NEIGHBOURS IN NEED
As part of Singapore’s relief assistance to countries stricken by the earthquake and tsunami on 26 Dec, the RSN despatched three Landing Ships Tank – RSS Endurance, RSS Persistence and RSS Endeavour- and other support vessels to Indonesia to assist in the humanitarian relief effort.
2004 DAWN OF UNMANNED SYSTEMS
The RSN was possibly one of the first few navies in the world to deploy Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) for actual operation. During the RSS Resolution deployment to the Northern Arabian Gulf, the Protector USV was used to assist in protecting critical infrastructure from terrorist attacks.
5 MAY 2007 A FORMIDABLE NAVY
Marking the RSN’s 40th year, the first Formidable Class Frigate, RSS Formidable, was commissioned. These advanced platforms possess a potent suite of anti-air, anti-ship and anti- submarine capabilities.
JAN 2009 A FULLY OPERATIONAL FRIGATE SQUADRON
RSS Stalwart and RSS Supreme were commissioned on 16 Jan 2009, marking the completion of a journey for the frigate squadron of six frigates.
MAY 2009 THE FLYING NAVY
The first three Sikorsky S-70B Seahawks were delivered. These naval helicopters operated off the Formidable Class Frigates, greatly extending the range and capabilities of our fleet.
2009 KEEPING SEA LANES FREE
The RSN deploys the RSS Persistence, an Endurance Class LST, together with two RSAF Super Puma helicopters, to support counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.
JANUARY 2010 TAKING MULTINATIONAL COMMAND
Singapore takes command of Combined Task Force 151, a multinational counter-piracy task force, for the first time. Led by Rear-Admiral (RADM) Bernard Miranda, the CTF 151 command team coordinated counter-piracy operations to deter and disrupt piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
MARCH 2011 ADVANCING WITH TECHNOLOGY
The opening of the Naval Wargaming & Simulation Centre marks a new milestone in RSN training. To optimise the training of the naval officers, the RSN has a strong tradition on using simulation to provide the sailors with more frequent and varied training opportunities.
NOV 2011 FOILED PIRATE ATTACKS IN ARABIAN SEA
The Republic of Singapore Navy's Landing Ship Tank, RSS Endeavour, disrupted two separate attacks by suspected pirates on merchant vessels that were transiting through the Arabian Sea, south of Oman, on 1 Nov.
DEC 2011 WELCOMING A NEW MEMBER
Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen officiated the commissioning ceremony of RSS Archer, the first of the two Archer Class submarines of the RSN. Since its acquisition from the Royal Swedish Navy in 2005, the RSS Archer, an ex-Royal Swedish Navy Vastergotland Class submarine, has been upgraded, refurbished and tropicalised for peak performance in the waters around Singapore.
SEP 2012 DEPLOYMENT OF THE FIRST FRIGATE TO THE GULF OF ADEN
The deployment of RSS Intrepid and the Sikorsky S-70B naval helicopter marks the first operational deployment of the frigate and naval helicopter for counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, under the ambit of CTF 151.
APRIL 2013 SECOND ARCHER CLASS SUBMARINE LAUNCHED
RSS Swordsman, the RSN’s second Archer-class submarine was commissioned. Acquired from the Royal Swedish Navy in 2005 and launched in Sweden in 2010, RSS Swordsman went through extensive sea trials in Sweden before returning to Singapore in Dec 2012.
MAY 2013 Upgrade for Missile Corvettes
The RSN fleet of missile corvettes (MCVs) receive extensive upgrades, breathing new life into the warships first commissioned in the early-1990s. Besides system upgrades, the addition of a Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) at the rear of the warships enhanced the MCVs’ ability to conduct extended range of surveillance and identify targets.
JUNE 2014 OUR SAILORS RETURN
151 of our brave sailors from RSS Tenacious, a Formidable Class frigate returned from their international counter-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden. This marked the second operational deployment of our frigates for counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.