She joined the Navy with a dream to see the world. Two decades on, she found not only a new purpose in serving the nation and nurturing naval engineers, but also the love of her life.
Fresh out of Singapore Polytechnic, then-19-year-old Jasmine Ng was hungry for a career that promised adventure and purpose. Inspired by her uncle who was a Regular in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), she decided to sign on with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).
"My uncle shared with me the importance of the SAF's role (in Singapore's defence), and it made me want to do my part and contribute to the country," explained Military Expert (ME) 4 Ng.
"Back then, the Navy slogan told us that we could see the world. That roused the adventurous spirit in me."
Armed with a diploma in mechanical engineering, she chose to pursue a career as a marine system engineer.
Now 40, the Naval Warfare System Engineer is happy that that slogan has made good its promise: "My dream really came true – I've been able to go on many deployments and visit many different countries!"
Finding purpose in serving others
ME4 Ng has been on many deployments, including the Rim of the Pacific Exercise and Exercise Pacific Griffin.
But the deployment that remains closest to her heart is Operation Flying Eagle, where she joined in the SAF's efforts to deliver aid to tsunami victims in Aceh, Indonesia in 2005.
"As I was quite new to the SAF then, the operation gave me the opportunity to see how the three Services worked together as one. Within days of being activated, we managed to despatch the first ship to send Army vehicles and helicopters that helped to deliver first aid to the casualties.
"I also witnessed the commitment and professionalism of the servicemen and women who came in immediately upon activation to prep for the operation, as well as the fighting spirit they displayed in wanting to help the tsunami victims and make the operation a success. This inspired me to stay on and develop my career in the Navy."
From pioneer ship crew to partners in life
It was also in the RSN that ME4 Ng met her husband, ME3 Foo Moo Kiat.
The couple crossed paths in 2005, when they were part of the pioneer crew of frigate RSS Steadfast. Love blossomed, and they got married in 2010. Today, they are the proud parents of two boys, Jayden, 11, and Jackson, 8.
As a Navy couple, ME4 Ng acknowledges the challenges of balancing family life with their work commitments and overseas deployments. Fortunately, they have strong support in the workplace and at home.
"We are lucky that our superiors understand the challenges that Navy couples like us face, and help us by making arrangements for only one of us to be deployed at sea at any one time. My parents also help to take care of the children when we are both at work."
Even though they often have to spend periods apart, ME4 Ng takes it in her stride: "Actually, when we (are apart and) don't get to see each other, it brings us closer. There's a trust between us – for instance, he is currently on deployment and I'm here taking care of the kids. I know that he is doing what he needs to do."
A passion for learning
ME4 Ng is a firm believer in lifelong learning. In 2017, she received her degree in Aerospace Systems from the Singapore University of Social Sciences.
And she's certainly not done in her pursuit of knowledge! She hopes to pick up more new skills such as programming, or continue to deepen her expertise in engineering.
"To me, it's important to be like a 'sponge' and constantly learn new things," she explained. "I enjoy learning. It also enables me to broaden my perspective, and helps me in my decision-making, both professionally and personally. I can apply these skills when coaching or counselling my juniors."
On 13 Jul, ME4 Ng was appointed as a Senior Military Expert at an appointment ceremony officiated by Senior Minister of State for Defence Zaqy Mohamad. She was also named the RSN's Sword of Honour recipient in the 23rd Military Domain Experts Course.
Her sons accompanied her to the ceremony on behalf of their dad, who was away on an overseas deployment. They also helped her affix the rank epaulette on her uniform.
Said her elder son Jayden: "I'm very happy and proud that my mummy was awarded the Sword of Honour! I hope that one day I will be able to receive a Sword like her too!
"We miss her when she is sailing and will talk to her on video-call. Whenever she comes back, we hug her and tell her that we miss her."
On being awarded the Sword of Honour, ME4 Ng said it was only possible with the help of her colleagues and family: "It's not just (testament to) my determination and hard work, but also the people who have supported and guided me, and enabled me to serve my duty as a sailor, engineer and leader in the Navy.
"I want to help grow the Navy engineering community to become even stronger and sharper. I also want to nurture the next generation of engineers, who will eventually be taking over from us."