The crew of the Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN's) RSS Vigilance attained full operational readiness status on 17 Jul, with a full crew of qualified Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen).
Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How visited the squadron, and witnessed first-hand how proficient the NSman crew was in handling the Victory-class Missile Corvette (MCV) RSS Valiant. They are one of the two NSman crews of the RSN.
"(The crew of RSS Vigilance attaining their full operational readiness status) testifies to our great investment in National Service in both full-time as well as our NSmen," said Mr Heng, who was hosted by Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral Lew Chuen Hong.
During his sail, Mr Heng witnessed the NSman crew executing a series of naval operations, as part of their In-Camp Training (ICT), which included identifying and neutralising simulated threats, as well as fire-fighting and damage control.
"For National Service, like the example that we have seen today, there are people who have committed themselves even when they are in operationally ready status, they make these sacrifices in order for our sovereignty, our peace and our stability is safeguarded for one another," said Mr Heng as he expressed his confidence in the crew of 188 SQN.
Lieutenant-Colonel (LTC) (NS) Kelvin Lim, Commanding Officer of RSS Vigilance, felt that it wasn't an easy feat for the NSman crew to attain their full operational readiness status.
"It is certainly not something that the NSmen themselves can achieve alone," said LTC (NS) Lim. "It certainly requires the understanding of both the RSN as well as all of our individual employers. I feel that the RSN, or SAF as a whole, does a good job in making sure that the time spent during our NS is very fulfilling."
The 41-year-old currently works in the Agency for Integrated Care, an agency set up by the Ministry of Health to build the eldercare infrastructure in Singapore. He handles financial assistance schemes, transportation and various eldercare services that are needed by elderly living communities.
"It is a challenge to balance both NS and work commitments, and it does take effort to reorganise their lives in order to fully support training commitments. Hence, I am very grateful to every single one of them."
LTC (NS) Lim also highlighted the importance of having the right attitude towards NS. "ICTs can range from 1.5 to 2.5 weeks. People might think of it as a disruption, but for my crew and me, we prefer to think of it as a time when we come back to do something we believe in," he said.
"We do encourage the crew to think of it as coming back to hone our skills as a ship, as this ship is like a family to us. We also think of it as a way of achieving balance between our personal and NS life."
Military Expert 1 (ME1) (NS) Anbalagan Sunderason agreed with LTC (NS) Lim. Using the analogy of a football team only coming together to play once every six months, ME1 (NS) Sunderason said: "We are already familiar with what is required…and over the years, it has become so natural for us, so we do not see it as tiresome or cumbersome. It is actually quite enjoyable in a way, as it is easy for us to achieve the same standard as we were before."
ME1 (NS) Sunderason currently runs his own company which specialises in landscaping and cleaning, where he ensures that his projects go well on a day-to-day basis.
A Regular from 2010 to 2015 with the RSN previously, the 29-year-old Communications Specialist from RSS Vigilance feels blessed that he is still able to serve within such a capacity.
"Being given this opportunity to come back and serve on board an MCV is something to be proud of, and it is something that I look forward to every year when I get the call-up."