“The Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN) 50 years of existence is a reminder that it is not just about capable ships and up-to-date technology, but fighting spirit and dedication to the nation,” asserted Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, during the commissioning ceremony of the navy's first littoral mission vessel (LMV), RSS Independence on Friday.
The programme was organised at Changi Naval Base. The commissioning ceremony was held in conjunction with the RSN’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, which commemorated 50 years of the RSN.
Delving into the history of RSN, PM Lee said, “RSN's beginnings were rooted in how the sea was and still is Singapore's lifeline. We needed a strong maritime force to protect our sovereignty, defend us from seaborne threats, and keep trade – our lifeblood – flowing. So at Telok Ayer Basin on this day 50 years ago, we created the Singapore Naval Volunteer Force.”
He added, “It was a makeshift force. All we had were a handful of volunteers from the Singapore Division of the Malayan Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and the Singapore Women’s Auxiliary Naval Service. Our fleet consisted of just two seaworthy wooden ships – RSS Panglima and RSS Bedok. Plus a third ship, RSS Singapura, moored to serve as the navy headquarters.”
“But what our pioneers lacked in technology and resources, they made up for in their determination and resourcefulness,” he said.
"We sent midshipmen abroad to Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, to train and gain operational experience. They worked hard to build and modernise the navy. They acquired and passed down the art of seafaring and the skills and discipline of seamen."
Reflecting on the present capability of Singapore Navy, PM Lee said, “Starting from two wooden ships, we now have a full-fledged Third Generation Navy – a fighting force including submarines, frigates, maritime patrol aircraft, unmanned vessels and unmanned aircrafts. Professional and courageous fighting men and women, who have been tested in real operations – Officers and men who have carried out counter-piracy missions in the Arabian Gulf, search-and-rescue operations after aircraft incidents, and coordinated patrols in the Malacca Straits. A navy that is admired at home and respected beyond our shores!”
PM Lee also said it was right for the new LMV to be named RSS Independence. He explained, “It is a significant and historic name. Significant because protecting Singapore’s independence has always been a core mission of the RSN. Historic because the name Independence carries the legacy and spirit of the navy's pioneers.”
While concluding, PM Lee said, “To the men and women of the RSN, you inherit a proud history, and you are entrusted with a vital mission. It is now your duty to sail the ships of the next generation Navy, and keep Singapore safe and secure, in peacetime as in war.”