Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong,
Service Chiefs, senior MINDEF/SAF officers,
Men and Women of the Navy family,
Three years ago, right here on this parade square, we celebrated the RSN's 50th Anniversary (RSN50).
Those 50 years were marked by unprecedented progress: from humble beginnings, with just volunteers and two wooden boats, to the formidable force that we see right here before us today. But even more significant is the fact that most of the transformation really took place only in the last 25 years.
That was around the time when many of my generation first joined the Navy. 25 years ago, as a young Midshipman, I did patrols on our then small Patrol Crafts. The Missile Gun Boats were still the mainstay - I did my first attachment on RSS Sea Hawk - and our Missile Corvettes (MCVs) were just coming online: completely brand new. The Navy today could not be more different.
RSN50 was therefore a poignant milestone, because it captured the collective experience of how our generation grew up - that unrelenting drive to advance the Navy, to be uncompromisingly the best, and to punch above our weight.
But at RSN50, we also asked ourselves a simple question - what next? What would the next 50 years be like?
It would have been easy to take the foot slightly off the pedal and rest a little on the laurels of what has been achieved. After all, like Singapore, our Navy Pioneers did bequeath us a significant legacy. But to do so, would have been to start on a slippery slope. The Chinese saying, "富不过三代 - Success does not last past three generations", was always that cautionary tale that occupied the back of our minds.
And so, we decided that we needed to be "Pioneers of our Generation". To make sure we continue that pioneering gumption, and launch our Navy beyond this inflexion point.
We have therefore been very demanding on ourselves over the past few years. Truth be told, it has not always been easy. There was critical work to bluntly recognise where things were not ideal. To then undertake that work - often unseen, quietly in the background - to make ourselves far more effective and efficient, to strengthen critical foundations. We do it not because it is easy, but precisely because it is hard.
At the same time, we set in motion cutting-edge capabilities for our future. Bringing online our Type 218SG Invincible-class submarines, operationalising our Singapore designed-and-built Littoral Mission Vessels; while initiating next-generation replacements for our MCVs, and putting in place plans for future ships for maritime security. Most exciting of all, making first-of-class forays into unmanned capabilities. To venture boldly into the unknown with that can-do spirit, not constrained by what has been done before. Because ultimately, what makes Singapore, what makes the Navy stand out is that exceptionalism - that we aim for what others can only dream about.
We did all this, even while we secured Singapore's everyday - the day-to-day peace and security that we have come to enjoy. Standing guard with our whole-of-government partners in maritime security and counter terrorism efforts. Standing firm in what is ours - in our territorial waters.
We do this because this little Red Dot, the place we call home, is really quite unique. We see it - we feel it - all the more right now, as the world around us grapples with uncertainty - be it geo-strategic, or more critically now, public health. The oasis of stability we enjoy here is completely man-made.
This is possible only because of what all of you do. Your strength underpins the peace and sovereignty of our tiny city state. Your eternal vigilance guarantees our access to the sea - the sea that carries the food we need for our survival, the fuel that produces our water, and underpins the economic success of our maritime nation.
As the stewardship of the Navy passes from one generation to the next, there is no better flag bearer than RADM Aaron Beng. We all know Aaron. He is the dogged warrior - borne of his upbringing at the frontlines of our fleet - a skilled strategist, and, most importantly, a steward and a leader that cares for our Navy Family. I am confident that he will fly our Navy flag high, and take us to greater heights.
The Navy is the frontline and the last line, and I speak for all of us when I say we are fiercely proud of our Navy and our Singapore.
It has been my distinct honour and privilege, to serve with every one of you. To have done my small part, to be a "Pioneer of our Generation".
Onwards and Upwards. Thank you.