RSS Valiant wins Best Fleet UnitThis is the missile corvette's fourth win.
Story by Teo Jing Ting // Photos by Kenneth Lin
Committed, bonded, like a family.
These are the words that the crew use to describe what it's like working on board missile corvette RSS Valiant – who have just clocked their fourth win in the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF's) annual Best Unit Competition, clinching the Best Fleet Unit award.
The Victory-class missile corvette (MCV) previously won in 1993, 1998 and 2012 – when the award was known as the Best Ship award.
Commanding Officer Major (MAJ) Choy Seng Tuck, 36, said: "We have a can-do spirit. Whatever we do, we will do without hesitation and give it our best.
"We are always working together and have a strong bond which allows us to do our job better. RSS Valiant is like a second family and we all care for one another very much."
Like a family
When it comes to caring for one another, that is something communication systems supervisor Military Expert (ME) 2 Amy Tan has often experienced throughout her two years on the MCV.
Growing up, ME2 Tan was very close to her grandmother and always misses the latter badly whenever she sails. Now that her grandmother is staying in a nursing home, this makes visitations harder, especially when work schedules become hectic.
"As the crew knows that I miss her a lot, they always check on me to ensure that I'm ok and that I have enough time to spend with her," said ME2 Tan.
"If the schedule permits, I'm able to take off or leave early just to spend time with my grandmother. The crew will help to cover my job if needed as well."
This sense of care and close camaraderie are why the 35-year-old has been enjoying her stint on the ship for the past two years. Although she has been in the Navy for 12 years, this is the first time she is serving on a smaller ship like a MCV.
"On bigger ships, we usually only work and interact with the people in our department but on a small ship, we work with everybody and the bonds are closer – it's a very nice feeling."
Priding themselves on gunnery skills
Last November, RSS Valiant took part in Exercise Malapura 2022, which commemorated its 30th anniversary that year.
The large-scale maritime exercise saw the ship honing their skills in a series of serials – including gunnery firing, maritime surveillance, manoeuvring and communication drills – with the Royal Malaysian Navy.
"Exercise Malapura has always been the key exercise for the MCVs. There's a lot of emphasis on gunnery performance for the ships when we are sent for the exercise," said Weapons Cluster Chief ME3 Murugesh S/O Velasamy.
This meant that the pressure was on for ME3 Murugesh, who ensures the readiness of the ship's weapon systems.
"We've always been consistent and good in our gunnery performance so, when we were put on a stage like Exercise Malapura, it was just a matter of keeping calm and continuing what we've been doing although there was definitely extra pressure," said the 36-year-old with a laugh.
"One thing that also ties us together is our Spartan identity. (Like the Spartans,) we are relentless and if you throw anything at us, we will do and give it our best. This is the spirit that takes us forward."
A blessing to be part of the ship
For 3rd Sergeant (3SG) (NS) Low Wen Xi, spending most of his National Service (NS) on board RSS Valiant was an enjoyable experience.
Despite the steep learning curve, 3SG (NS) Low threw himself into learning the ropes. What helped was also the crew's patience and willingness to guide and train him.
In fact, the 22-year-old communication systems specialist was working so hard, some of the crew actually told him to take a break.
"The crew was very warm and welcoming right from the start," explained 3SG (NS) Low, who completed his full-time NS on 29 Apr.
"Even when I made mistakes, they were very forgiving about it and just told me not to do it again – this was the kind of culture and mentality on the ship which made my NS journey a blessing."
Strong and committed crew
When asked how he felt about RSS Valiant's win, 3SG (NS) Low said he was proud to have been part of the ship.
"It was a well-deserved win, judging from all that I've learnt from the crew."
For MAJ Choy, clinching Best Fleet Unit was a proud and happy moment.
"We did not set out to win but we just gave our best in any activities that we were tasked with. We have a very strong crew who are committed in whatever they do and the results showed that.
"It's always a tough fight and we will continue to do our best."