MAJ Eileen Sow Yi Ling

Head, Navy Recruitment Centre
What intrigued you about a career in the Navy?

It has been a childhood ambition to be in the military, to serve and protect my country. The Navy not only offers a career that is meaningful, challenging, enriching and rewarding, but also brings me to many places. There is a saying that goes, ‘Join the Navy, to see the world’. With the Navy, I have been given the opportunity to sail to 14 different ports of 10 different countries and still counting.

Share with us what you did as the Executive Officer of the ship.

I was in charge of the full suite of operational requirements of the ship. This involved planning of exercises and sea trials, conducting trainings for the crew and working with external and internal agencies to fully operationalise the ship. In that sense, it was an all-encompassing role, which saw me taking on different hats at the same time. 

How has your character grown since you joined the Navy?

Being the only child in my family, I used to be quite spoilt growing up. My parents saw a stark change in me during the course of my training in OCS and after joining the RSN as a commissioned officer. I would say that the rigorous training in OCS and the subsequent courses in the Navy have helped to shape me into who I am today by stretching my mental and physical limits. In training schools, we were constantly put through tests to make us work under pressure and within tight deadlines and these have prepared me well in meeting the demands of my work on board. The core values that were taught to me in OCS have always been the guiding principles in my work and in life.

What is your proudest achievement in the Navy to date?

I wouldn’t call them my own achievements but I do have numerous proud moments in the Navy. These include major triumphs like achieving mission successes with zero safety incidents, which saw our hard work and sacrifices pay off. I am also proud to have brought our ship through seven hours of intense navigation through the narrow and winding Chang Jiang and Huang Pu Jiang into Shanghai, and four hours through Son Saigon, into Ho Chi Minh City. We had to pass big merchant ships on reciprocal courses, with less than 50 metres between the vessels at the closest point! Many other proud moments during the course of my tour as a Navigation Officer both on board a Patrol Vessel and on a Landing Ship Tank include seeing my NSFs and regulars crew find their jobs meaningful, grow professionally together and produce quality results when put through tests.

What keeps you motivated in the Navy?

The sense of purpose and the meaningful work that I do in the Navy are what keep me constantly motivated. I am proud to be able to contribute to the defence of my country, and knowing that it translates to keeping my homeland and family safe explains why I do what I do in the Navy.

We understand that you completed the Jungle Confidence, Basic Diving and Airborne courses. What inspired you to participate in all these courses? Share with us some memorable moments of these courses that you attended.

I just wanted to challenge myself to see how far I could go. I wanted to inspire others to step out of their comfort zone and try new things. If you never try, you’ll never know how far you can go. I hope others can see that since a petite girl like me can successfully complete the courses, they will be inspired to try it too! It’s definitely an experience of a lifetime!

The most amazing thing about attending courses is that you get to meet new friends from the other services and vocations, and miraculously at the end of the course, you’ll find yourself feeling like you’ve known each other for a long time. Such camaraderie was what I enjoyed most from the courses. Through tough courses like the Jungle Confidence Course, you’ll also learn to appreciate the simplest of things in life that we often take for granted. During the Basic Diving and Airborne courses, I was able to catch a glimpse of the tough training that our divers and commandos undergo on a daily basis. This gives me the motivation to work even harder for the common purpose shared with my comrades in arms.

What advice would you give to anyone who is considering joining the Navy?

Unlike any usual eight-to-five desk-bound job, being in the military wearing the uniform means duty, honour and country before self at all times and there will be many occasions where you’ll need to prepare yourself to make sacrifices. Life in the Navy is not going to be easy but it is definitely a place where you’ll forge some of the greatest friendships and share the most meaningful memories. I wouldn’t trade my experience here in the Navy for anything else in the world. If you think you’re up for the challenge, join the Navy Family!

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