Colours and Sounds

Engage your senses through time-honoured naval ceremonies and practices
Colours Ceremony

Colours and Sounds (Naval Traditions Part I)

This video showcases two of the Navy’s most storied traditions, the Colours ceremony and the practice of piping.

Sunset Ceremony

Dressing Up (Naval Traditions Part II)

Watch how a Republic of Singapore Navy ship is dressed up for special occasions such as cocktail receptions for foreign guests.

Pipes and Meaning

The boatswain’s pipe, a special pipe instrument, is used to signal commands during ceremonies, such as the Colours ceremony and Sunset ceremony, and to pass commands to the crew. The issuing of commands using a boatswain’s pipe is known as piping. Here is a selection of pipes used on board Navy ships, together with the commands they represent.

The Still

The still or alert is used to call the crew to attention, and is also piped as a mark of respect paid to a certain occasion or rank. With certain exceptions, the still is only accorded to persons who are specifically entitled to it.

The still is piped at the hoisting and hauling down of Colours during the Colours and Ceremonial Sunset. The still is also piped between sunrise and sunset if the ship is passing by or is being passed by another ship that is:
1.    Carrying the President’s flag
2.    Carrying other distinguishing flags or pennants
3.    A flag ship
4.    Carrying a Commanding Officer of a higher seniority
5.    A foreign warship with a Commanding Officer of a higher seniority

If the seniority of a foreign warship’s Commanding Officer is not known, our RSN’s ships are to pipe first.

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The Side

Piping the side originates from the tradition of hoisting officers aboard ship in a chair. This call remains in use on board the ship as a mark of respect to officers when embarking or disembarking.

The side is piped when the officer arrives and again when he leaves. If the officer arrives or departs by a brow, he is piped once only as he crosses the brow. (Prior to piping the side, the “still” may be piped to alert all hands on deck to stand to attention, until the “carry on” is piped.)

The side is to be piped for the following between Colours and Sunset:

1.    The President of Singapore
2.    Chief of Defence Force
3.    Chief of Navy, Chief of Army and Chief of Air Force
4.    Officers of flag ranks
5.    Line Commanders, including Fleet Commander; Commander MSTF; Flotilla Commander; Squadron Commander; and Commanding Officer of commissioned ship
6.    Officer of the Guard (when flying distinguishing flag or pennant)

The side is to be piped for all foreign Naval Officers in uniform at all hours. In addition, the side should normally be piped for an officer entitled to it — even though he may be accompanying an officer senior to him, who is not entitled to the call. 

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Carry On

Used after the still, to dismiss the crew back to their duties.

General Call

Piped before an announcement. 

Pipe Down

This call orders the dismissal of all crew not on watch.

Wakey Wakey

True to its name, this is usually the first pipe of the day to wake the sailors up.