Experience the thrill of the chase at NDP!A whole lot of hard work goes into the adrenaline-pumping moves for the Total Defence Display at NDP 2022.
// Story by Teo Jing Ting
// Photos by PIONEER photographers
It is a huge adrenaline rush to watch the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN)'s Combatant Craft Medium (CCM) carve out impossibly sharp turns, sending sprays of water up onto the bay area of the Float @ Marina Bay.
The CCM is in pursuit of 'terrorists' on a speedboat. The high speed chase eventually comes to a halt as the CCM pulls up and the naval divers hold the 'terrorists' at gunpoint.
In the air, a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) CH-47F carrying elite naval divers arrives on the scene. One by one, the naval divers slip into the water. They then emerge on the Floating Platform to take down the rest of the terrorists.
Audience members can look forward to these exciting moves and more during the Total Defence Display (TDD) and Helocast segment at this year's National Day Parade (NDP) on 9 Aug.
As the big day draws near, plenty of hard work has been put into show preparations to maximise the thrill and excitement for the audience.
Flying through confined spaces
CH-47F pilot Major (MAJ) Daniel Goh has to take on the challenge of manoeuvring through tight and confined airspace when flying into the bay area for the Helocast segment.
The flight crew and the naval divers are also under time pressure. They have a just two minutes to execute their mission; it is crucial for everyone to be familiar with their roles.
This was why planning and training for the Helocast segment began in May this year. From recceing the bay area and detailing how to conduct the flight, to countless hours of practise on the flight simulator before actual flights, the crew left nothing to chance.
The flight crew also worked closely with the naval divers to coordinate their moves.
"We all want to bring our A-game and put up a good show, so we need to go through the dry runs to make sure that everybody's crystal clear on what they need to do," said MAJ Goh, 42.
"Once we go into show centre, it's our responsibility to bring the best show to Singaporeans."
Similarly, the tight space at the bay area also posed challenges for the CCM crew.
To overcome the space constraints, they trained in the waters back at the Naval Diving Unit (NDU). The divers also did a deep dive recce at the bay area to familiarise themselves with the show area.
MAJ Daniel Chow, Officer In-Charge of the maritime portion of the TDD, said: "Because of how small the bay area is, it's challenging to do sharp manoeuvres when it comes to the high speed chase.
"(But) we want to make sure that we deliver a good show, so we are training hard."
MAJ Chow and fellow naval diver 3rd Warrant Officer (3WO) "Riptide" are among the 47 navy personnel who are participating in TDD.
For 3rd Warrant Officer (3WO) "Riptide" who operates the CCM, it is the excitement of hearing the countdown timer that keeps him going.
He shared that the CCM would be travelling at 30 knots (about 55km/h) during the show, and going at this speed in a confined space like the bay means that timing and precision is paramount when executing the sharp manoeuvres.
With that in mind, the crew went through multiple table-top exercises before executing their moves in the bay area so that they know what exactly to do during the performance.
Long hours of preparation
At the backend, it is the engineering crew like Military Expert (ME) 2 Mohan Raj s/o Alagappa who keeps the CCM in tip-top condition.
As a craft engineer in NDU, 33-year-old ME2 Mohan conducts checks twice weekly before the preview shows on Saturday evenings.
After the passing the system checks on Friday, the CCMs will be transported to from Changi Naval Base to Kallang Sea Training Centre.
The boats are then parked there overnight before being moved out to the show area after another round of checks on Saturday morning.
The TDD crew has to put in long hours for a few minutes of performance. What keeps them going is seeing the audience thanking and waving to them excitedly as the CCMs sail past after the TDD segment.
"We start work at 5am (on each performance day) and the hours are really long, so the support from the public at the Floating Platform and the bay area helps to keep us going every week," said MAJ Chow.
The 36-year-old added that the sail past of the CCMs around the bay is also a way of thanking Singaporeans for their support and bringing a slice of the excitement to those who are unable to get a ticket to the main show.
"So if you're around the bay, remember to say 'hi!' and take some pictures too!"