In response to media queries, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is issuing clarifications on the safety record for the Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer (SSPH) and the standard operating procedures (SOPs) required of its operating and maintenance crew.
The SSPH is a 155mm, 39 calibre, tracked howitzer developed by ST Engineering Land Systems, and commissioned in 2003. In the last 15 years of SSPH operations, there has not been any reported injury of servicemen due to the gun lowering for maintenance or operating in or firing of the SSPH. Over the last 15 years, more than 1,000 servicemen, NSmen and regulars, have been trained to operate the SSPH and around 12,500 rounds fired.
Appended with this news release are SOPs for operating SSPH gun barrel, drilled into operators and maintenance servicemen during their training and operations.
A Committee of Inquiry (COI) was convened on 25 January 2019 by the Armed Forces Council to investigate the circumstances leading to the death of Corporal First Class (National Service) [CFC (NS)] Pang Wei Chong, Aloysius.
Since June last year, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) included serving or ex-judges as persons eligible to chair the COI, in addition to senior civil servants. For this COI, a judge nominated by the State Court will be Chairman and its other members include a consultant medical specialist, a member of the External Review Panel on SAF Safety (ERPSS), a member of the Workplace Safety and Health Council, and a senior-ranked National Serviceman. None of the COI members work within MINDEF or are SAF regulars.
The COI has full powers and access to material and witnesses to investigate the circumstances leading to the death, determine the contributory factors and make recommendations to rectify any lapses uncovered to enhance safety of training and operations. The COI will submit its report in full to the ERPSS for comments, questions, and views. The ERPSS will provide a written report on the COI findings, which will be made public.
The well-being of servicemen is MINDEF's and the SAF's topmost priority. The SAF has reduced the training tempo for commanders and soldiers to assess safety protocols and plans in their units. The reduced training tempo will remain in place until the SAF is satisfied that training and other activities can be conducted safely. The SAF is committed to strengthening the safety culture on the ground.
The Minister for Defence will also deliver a Ministerial Statement to address the recent National Service training deaths at the next Parliamentary sitting in February 2019.