The past year has been a busy yet exceptional one for the crew of Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV) RSS Independence.
Having been deployed for multiple security operations in Singapore waters such as the Trump-Kim Singapore Summit and the 33rd ASEAN Summit, it is no surprise that the first-of-class LMV has emerged as this year's Best Maritime Security (MARSEC) Unit in the Singapore Armed Forces' Best Unit Competition.
Major (MAJ) Gabriel Choy, Commanding Officer of RSS Independence, highlighted that the crew's mindset, hard work and professionalism were the main reasons that they achieved the title this year.
"From the day I first arrived at RSS Independence, I could already tell that the professionalism from these guys are top-notch," said MAJ Choy. He took over command in July 2018.
"As a MARSEC unit, we are a front-line unit… When called upon, we must go, and at times we have to go at short notice, and it's not something that we are able to tell our family members in advance," he explained. "It might be tough, but all of our crew members accept that this is their profession and duty, and their commitment is what helped us clinched this year's title."
Military Expert (ME) 2 Pearlyn Leow agreed with MAJ Choy, and emphasised that family support played a crucial role for the past year. "My family members are my main pillars of strength and motivation," said the Command and Control Supervisor.
ME2 Leow recalled the time when the crew brought their families out for a one-day sea sortie (sail out to sea), to give them a glimpse of what they do on a day-to-day basis.
"It was a good opportunity to allow many family members of the crew to get a feel of what we do when we are out at sea for operations," said ME2 Leow. "It is important that they have that understanding that we have to be deployed out, and potentially be away from home regularly."
The crew spends, on average, 13 days away from home each month. Coupled with the rigorous training and time spent together, many of them regard RSS Independence as their second family.
ME3 Edwin Ong underscored the importance of discipline and welfare of the crew on board ship, and how it affects their morale and effectiveness.
"It is very important for the crew to understand what our purpose is here – it is to defend Singapore's sovereignty," said the Coxswain of RSS Independence.
When asked what were his thoughts on the ship winning Best MARSEC Unit this year, he said: "I feel very fortunate to be part of RSS Independence. Our crew is very closely knitted, and that is the main ingredient for our success in clinching the award. With our fighting spirit, we are able to overcome any obstacle."