Sea-ing double

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22 Feb 2022 | PEOPLE

Sea-ing double

These twins went to separate schools and had their own group of friends, but training and sailing on board the same ship made them grow closer as brothers.

// Story by Thrina Tham

// Photos by Amos Chew

3SG Ernus (left) and 3SG Jonus are both serving their NS as Marine Systems Operators on board RSS Persistence.

Unlike many twins who often find themselves in the same classroom, these two grew up attending different schools.

3rd Sergeant (3SG) Jonus Ho went to Temasek Secondary followed by Victoria Junior College, while 3SG Ernus Ho did his A-Level examinations directly at Dunman High School. Both also had their own gang of friends.

So, it came as a shock when they were both posted to the Republic of Singapore Navy for their National Service – and on board the same ship!

"It was definitely a surprise as we assumed we would go our separate ways after our BMT graduation," said 3SG Ernus.

"And we didn't have any background in Engineering… We thought we would still be wearing green," added 3SG Jonus, who is the older twin by about a minute.

The twins, 20, have now found home as Marine Systems Specialists on board Landing Ship Tank RSS Persistence. They work alongside Regulars and other Full-time National Servicemen in maintaining and operating machinery around their ship – from the engine to the air conditioning.

They will reach their Operationally Ready Date (ORD) this November, after which 3SG Jonus and 3SG Ernus will be studying Computer Science and Business respectively.

3SG Jonus (left) and 3SG Ernus conducting checks on the ship's engine as part of their daily tasks on board. The longest sail the twins have been on lasted five days and four nights.

First things first: With twins on the same ship, have you been mistaken for each other?

(In unison) Oh, of course. Everyday!

3SG Jonus: Our team mates and friends whom we've been working with for the past six months can differentiate us, but sometimes our superiors will call us by the wrong name.

3SG Ernus: Yeah, it's quite funny. So sometimes if they need help, they'll call the both of us instead of calling one guy.

Before the Navy, you did your Basic Military Training in the same platoon. What was that like?

3SG Ernus: It was good because if I forgot to pack something like detergent to wash my clothes, or a set of physical training clothes, I can just use his! (chuckles)

Then for the tough events like field camp, when you see your brother doing the same thing as you, it gives you a sense of comfort. If I put it in one word, having him there was reassuring.

3SG Jonus: It was an unspoken thing that we didn't talk about but, when we saw each other hard at work, we felt more motivated and had the energy to press on.

What was it like to be posted to the same ship then?

3SG Ernus: We had a two-month "Intern Phase" when we first came on board. That made us even closer as brothers, because we were scrambling around learning new things together. It also got us more comfortable to ship life and was really eye-opening.

3SG Jonus: There was a firefighting course during the training where we went to the Singapore Civil Defence Force to learn to fight fires. It was a 3-day course and it was quite physically exhausting. But seeing my brother labouring with the bags, carrying heavy bottles and fighting fire in the full set of uniform with me…motivated me.

Were there times you had to look for your brother for help?

3SG Ernus: My brother is more driven and gets very serious when we're at work. During the Intern Phase, when I forgot something I needed to know – for example where a certain valve was – I would always ask him. It was more of me looking for him, than the other way around.

3SG Jonus: Ya, for me there was nothing much that I had to look for him for. (laughs)

My brother is the more comical one and he is also calmer compared to me. If I'm stressed, he makes some joke to help.

3SG Jonus (second from right) and 3SG Ernus with their parents after graduating as specialist cadets in August 2021. [Photo courtesy of interviewees]

What do you enjoy most about your daily job?

3SG Jonus: I really enjoy being with the tech department, we're like a band of brothers. Everyone is friendly and buys food for each other; we just sit down and talk about life. It's the crew that makes our ship life fun.

3SG Ernus: The ship really has all sorts of personalities – we get to interact with people from all backgrounds, talk and become friends. I will definitely miss the crew when I ORD. In fact, I already miss those who have recently ORD-ed.

3SG Jonus: That, and the food cooked by the naval chef is damn good!

3SG Ernus: (nods in total agreement)

---

The twins may spend a lot of time together on board but exactly how good is their twin telepathy? Find out as they take on the "Jinx Challenge"!

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