Full of vigour: Missile corvette clinches Best Fleet Unit

https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/wcm/connect/pioneer/76f829ee-ae9f-467e-92bc-688a644b8103/24jun20_news2-1.JPG?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-76f829ee-ae9f-467e-92bc-688a644b8103-nbBzlZU /web/wcm/connect/pioneer/76f829ee-ae9f-467e-92bc-688a644b8103/24jun20_news2-1.JPG?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-76f829ee-ae9f-467e-92bc-688a644b8103-nbBzlZU /web/portal/pioneer/article/feature-article-detail/milestones/milestones/2020-Q2/24jun20_news2
24jun20_news2 /web/portal/pioneer/article/feature-article-detail/milestones/2020-Q2/24jun20_news2
24 Jun 2020 | MILESTONES

Full of vigour: Missile corvette clinches Best Fleet Unit

This is the fourth time RSS Vigour has bagged the top honour since entering service about three decades ago.

// Story Koh Eng Beng

// Photos Ong Ji Xuan

The crew of RSS Vigour cheering at achieving this year's Best Fleet Unit in the SAF's Best Unit Competition.
English 华文

Through its years of service with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), RSS Vigour has been a reliable workhorse that has seen a slew of high-tech upgrades.

This year, the Victory-class missile corvette has clinched the Best Fleet Unit in the annual Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Best Unit Competition.

The award is given to the ship that comes out tops in the assessment of various aspects such as combat readiness and proficiency, logistics, safety and manpower. RSS Vigour last won the top honour in 2016.

Always mission-ready

RSS Vigour has proven its combat capabilities and readiness - it won this year's RSN Top Gun award in the Navy's annual gunnery shooting competition.

Away from home, it successfully commanded a task group comprising eight warships from five countries in Exercise Bersama Lima, a Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPFA) exercise hosted by Malaysia last year.

The crew of RSS Vigour manning their stations in the Combat Information Centre as they prepare for battle drills.

RSS Vigour was also the warfare commander for anti-surface and anti-air exercise serials during the exercise.

The second oldest military partnership in the world after NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), the FPDA comprises Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

RSS Vigour also achieved a first during the 40th anniversary of Exercise Pelican, a bilateral exercise with the Bruneian Navy, last year. It deployed an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for the first time in the exercise series to provide tactical surveillance and targeting information.

Secret to success

What enabled RSS Vigour to come out tops? Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Loy Shing Tong, 39, said it all comes down to their strong family spirit.

"My belief has always been that people are important. They need to enjoy their work. (And) in order for them to enjoy their work, they have to treat each other as family members."

LTC Loy giving his approval to engage the "enemy" during a battle drill. He has been the commander of RSS Vigour for over three years.

After all, when people enjoy their work, they will naturally give their best and excel.

Case in point: To prepare the ship for Exercise Pelican last year, the entire crew of 46 worked late into the night, to scrub each and every floor board in the bridge and clean the machinery.

"Even though some (of them) completed their tasks earlier than others, everyone chose to stay on together," said Military Expert (ME) 1 Jesphne Koh, a Marine Systems Operator.

"This memory is one that always brings a smile to my face," added the 25-year-old. One of four female sailors in the crew, ME1 Koh is responsible for keeping the machinery on board the ship in tip-top condition.

ME1 Koh conducting her rounds in the ship's engine room to ensure the machinery is running well.

Part of the family

Full-time National Serviceman 3rd Sergeant (3SG) Lim Bing Hong can attest to the strong bonds among the crew, describing RSS Vigour as a "very caring ship".

During his maiden sail in Exercise Bersama Lima last year, the 22-year-old vomited seven times in one hour due to the bad sea state. Although this took place during a major exercise, the crew's topmost concern was his well-being.

"They really cared for me and showed their concern by offering me tips on how to manage (my sea-sickness). And this really reassured me that I'm in safe hands."

3SG Lim (foreground) acting as the lookout at the bridge as the team investigates a potential contact of interest.

Protecting Singapore's sea lanes as part of RSS Vigour has enriched 3SG Lim's National Service journey.

He realised that he is playing an important role by preventing disruption to maritime trade and ensuring the flow of crucial food supplies and necessities to Singapore.

A Navigation Systems Operator, 3SG Lim helps in the navigation of the ship using radar as well as electronic and paper charts.

To help rookies like him get up to speed with the ship's operation, senior members of the crew will guide them, step by step, until they are confident of handling a task on their own.

"We don't treat ourselves like colleagues, come in just to work from nine to five, and go back. We are like a second family," said ME2 Navin Kumar, a Weapons System Supervisor.

ME2 Navin (front), together with his fellow weapons specialists, cleaning the OTO Melara Gun after a live firing.

End goal: to defend S'pore

The 30-year-old has been with the ship for the last five years. He was also part of the RSS Vigour crew that won the Best Fleet Unit in 2016.

While winning the Best Fleet Unit and Top Gun awards is a recognition of the ship crew's hard work over the past year, ME2 Navin noted that these are just by-products of training well.

Their motivation? To defend Singapore.

Part of the RSN's strike force, RSS Vigour maintains a high level of combat capabilities to perform quick attacks on enemy ships and aircraft. It has been on standby duties for most of 2020.

In recent months, some of the ship's crew members stepped up to support other units that were deployed to safeguard Singapore's waters during the circuit breaker period and Phase 1 of Singapore's reopening.

To ensure the operational readiness as well as the health and safety of their fellow sailors, they had to be isolated in camp for up to six weeks.

Asked about his future hopes for RSS Vigour, LTC Loy said: "As we all know, friendship is not built overnight… I really hope that the unit will be able to maintain this strong family spirit and culture, and continue to bring the ship forward."

Suggested Reading
Kids Try: Navy Sailor Feature
Kids Try: Navy Sailor

Can 9-year-old Sanjanaah Suresh make a skilled sailor? In this PIONEER Kids special, she visits the Littoral Mission Vessel Simulation Centre, where her father ME3 Suresh is a senior trainer, to find out what he went through during his sailing days.

DSTA director recognised among top S'pore women in tech
DSTA director recognised among top S'pore women in tech

Ms Gayle Chan, DSTA's Deputy Chief Executive (Information), has earned a spot on the Singapore (SG) 100 Women in Tech 2021 list.

Weapons trainer with a tender heart Feature
Weapons trainer with a tender heart

ME3 Jimmy Lim may be a weapon systems expert but his trainees have never come under fire for making mistakes.

Diving Into a Different Passion
Diving Into a Different Passion

This SAF Scholarship recipient is living out his dream as a naval diver. But it wasn't what he always imagined himself doing.

A higher calling to serve
A higher calling to serve

President's Scholarship recipient Lieutenant (LTA) Ang Zyn Yee is a Young Officer on board Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV) RSS Fortitude, running the ship's routine as Officer-of-the-Day and joining the crew on patrols.

Father-Son Duo Appointed as Senior Military Experts
Father-Son Duo Appointed as Senior Military Experts

Father and son ME4 Tan Gim Cheong (right) and ME4 Roy Tan are two of the 105 appointed as senior military experts at the 21st Senior Military Expert Appointment Ceremony on Thursday.

Bonds of brotherhood Feature
Bonds of brotherhood

"Brotherhood" isn't always about being born into the same family; sometimes it's about a little thing called "fate" bringing two people together to share a bond that stands the test of time. Meet ME4 Lee Siak Kong and ME4 Chua Chwee Huat in PIONEER's "Buddies" series.

S'pore and US navies conduct maritime exercise in Guam
Cover story
S'pore and US navies conduct maritime exercise in Guam

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) conducted a series of air, surface and underwater naval drills alongside their United States Navy (USN) counterparts in Exercise Pacific Griffin 2021.

SAF preps for ops & training with endemic COVID-19
Cover story
SAF preps for ops & training with endemic COVID-19

In his annual SAF Day interview, Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen talks about aligning with the national COVID-19 stance, how ops and training will continue and the focus for the SAF moving forward.

783 SIR is this year's Best NS Unit Feature
783 SIR is this year's Best NS Unit

Professionalism, commitment and a sense of purpose among their citizen soldiers – these are the qualities that led to 783 SIR's Best NS Unit award win in this year's SAF Best Unit Competition.