Day at Sea on Board Protector

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20 Jan 2022 | OPS & TRAINING

Day at Sea on Board Protector

Take a peek into life on board newly operationalised MSRV Protector, as she sails for a weekend and conducts her first grenade launcher live firing.

// Story by Thrina Tham

// Photos by Chua Soon Lye

Just four months fresh out the yard, Maritime Security and Response Vessel (MSRV) Protector, is taking on her duties in safeguarding Singapore's waters.

She is one of four Sentinel-class MSRVs refurbished from the Republic of Singapore Navy's former Patrol Vessels (PVs).

The MSRVs were equipped with a range of calibrated capabilities to provide more options in responding to maritime incidents. These include an improved audio warning system, a fender system and modular ballistics protection as well as less-lethal capabilities like extended range grenade launchers.

MSRV Protector and MSRV Bastion – the last two to leave the yard – were officially operationalised in a ceremony on 20 Jan.

Sat, 0700H

While most are still slumbering in bed, the crew of MSRV Protector report to Changi Naval Base to get their ship ready to sail.

There is much to do to ensure she is in tip-top shape before she heads out to sea – personnel conduct their system checks, oil their machines and load rounds into their guns.

With a small crew of 30 sailing, everyone chips in to help.

Military Expert (ME) 2 Christine Boey oiling the typhoon gun to ensure it is protected from sea conditions.
The Weapon Control Systems team providing rounds for the typhoon gun. Live ammunition is loaded onto the ship every time she sets sail for operations.


With the system checks done, the crew conduct a silent colours ceremony as the ship's ensign is raised.

The ropes are released and MSRV Protector slips off from the wharf.

Soon, the bridge breaks into a flurry of activity – assisted by the bridge crew, the Officer of the Watch (OOW) gives direction to the Coxswain at the helms, who steers the ship with steady hands.

With many merchant vessels plying the waters along the Singapore Straits, it takes careful coordination to ensure the ship sails off smoothly.

At the bridge wing, Commanding Officer Major (MAJ) Lim Jun Long watches over his crew.

"The experience has been a steep yet enjoyable one," he said, on his crew's journey from shipyard to sea. "We are defending the sovereignty of Singapore's territorial waters…so we have to train hard to be prepared to deal against real time threats."

"For example, there has been a recent spate of attempted sea robbery incidents. This brings purpose to the mission of our Flotilla and inspires us 'Sentinels' to serve at the frontline," added MAJ Lim, who used to serve on board the PV.


As MSRV Protector nears the waters off Horsburgh Lighthouse, she gets ready to guard the surrounding waters.

With its range of calibrated capabilities, the MSRVs (pictured here is MSRV Sentinel guarding the waters around Horsburgh Lighthouse) offer the RSN more options in responding to maritime incidents.


Not long after, the "action station" alarm is made and the crew rush to don their anti-flash gear and close up at action stations as a potential threat is spotted.

It is vital for them to always remain alert, to respond immediately to potential maritime security threats and quickly relay updates to shore.

The bridge crew don their anti-flash gear and close up at action stations.
A gunner surveying the waters that MSRV Protector is guarding.
At the Combat Information Centre (CIC), the crew use electro-optics sensors to keep watch over the surrounding waters and ships.


The ship plays out a simulated small boat threat to test the readiness of their crew and equipment.

This includes the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), which allows them to project verbal warnings both in the day and at night.

"We use the LRAD to deter an imminent threat. Our first means of tackling the threat will be using the LRAD to give a warning siren, followed by a warning text," explained Weapon System Operator Military Expert (ME) 1 Marcus Tan.

"If the small boat still doesn't comply, we will use our weapons to counter, such as firing warning shots with our General-Purpose Machine Gun."


After a long day at sea, there is only one thing on everyone's minds: Dinner.

The crew break for their meals while they can, with some packing food aside for those still standing watch.


Night falls – some crew rest while others take on the night watch at the bridge and Combat Information Centre (CIC).

The crew is trained for such overnight duties to safeguard Singapore's waters 24/7, said MAJ Lim. "We have conducted night sorties and spent numerous hours honing the skillsets of individuals as well as the team."

The crew on night duty watching over the waters off Horsburgh Lighthouse at the ship's bridge.

Sun, 1100H

Another day passes peacefully out at sea. MSRV Protector sails out of her area of operations, headed to her next destination – the South China Sea.

As part of the Maritime Security and Response Flotilla (MSRF) that was stood up on 26 Jan 2021, the MSRVs provide the RSN with more options in responding to maritime incidents and protecting Singapore's territorial waters.

They will be replaced by new purpose-built vessels, to be operated by the MSRF from 2026.

The newly refitted Ballistic Protection shields the exterior of the ship's bridge, as seen during sunrise.


Excitement is in the air as the crew report to the bridge wing. They have been training hard on shore and it is time for their Extended Range Grenade Launcher (XRGL) live firing out at sea.

The MSRV is the first in the Navy to introduce the use of the XRGL – a less-lethal means of dealing with maritime security threats.

A gunner getting into a defensive position before readying himself to take aim and fire.
A grenade explodes right above the target, dispersing fragments to counter impending threats.

Weapon Control Systems Supervisor ME2 Christine Boey said: "There are a lot of factors different from shore that will affect our firing: challenges like sea state, the manoeuvre of our ship and the wind condition out at sea."

The gunners successfully fire their rounds, shooting at the target from different ranges.

ME2 Boey firing the launcher towards the target out at sea.


It is time to head back to base. While looking forward to returning to family and friends, the crew know they have to remain on high alert while sailing back.

As the MSRV Protector crew came from different parts of the Navy, it was especially fulfilling to see them work together to reach their current level of readiness, said Executive Officer, Lieutenant (LTA) Gatsper Arthur.

LTA Gatsper (right), who is also the Principal Warfare Officer, at his action station at the CIC.
MSRV Protector and her crew arrive back at Changi Naval Base at around 8pm.

This teamwork was especially evident when the crew sailed out for their first A-Gun acceptance firing in August last year, he said.

"We trained hard for it and by the time we sailed back, it was past midnight and we had to start cleaning the guns. Even through everyone was tired, I started seeing people coming out to the foxcle to help, and everyone had a smile on their faces.

"That's when I saw that we really became a family – even though we're tired, we still work together to achieve a common outcome."

The crew of MSRV Protector standing proud during the operationalisation ceremony of MSRV Protector and MSRV Bastion on 20 Jan. [Photo by Tedd Jong]

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