SINGAPORE: Come May 15, the Singapore flag won't be the only one billowing in the wind at Changi Naval Base.
About 30 warships from 20 countries will dock here as part of Singapore's first-ever international maritime review. The event is one of several as the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) celebrates its 50th year, or RSN50.
Channel NewsAsia understands that ships from the US, China and all of ASEAN’s militaries will be present.
More than 4,000 guests and participants, including about 30 chiefs of navy and directors-general of coast guard, are expected to attend the event, in what observers see as a show of maritime diplomacy.
RSN50 organising committee deputy chairman Colonel Saw Shi Tat said the event was "testament of the friendship we have forged with friends and partners from all over the world".
NEW SHIP COMMISSIONS ON NAVY DAY
President Tony Tan Keng Yam will be conducting a portion of the review on board the Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV) Independence, a ship built from scratch in Singapore. The LMV Independence will be commissioned on Friday (May 5), which is Navy Day.
The LMV Independence is touted to be faster and smarter than its predecessor – the Fearless-class RSS Independence, which retired in March after more than two decades of service.
The new ship, designed for functions including maritime security operations and search-and-rescue missions, is set to begin operations by August. It is one of eight LMVs that will be operational by mid-2020, replacing 11 Fearless ships.
The LMV's launch and recovery system allows shipmen to deploy boats in less than a minute, compared to its predecessor's 15 minutes. It is also equipped with a smart system that allows officers to track equipment, man guns, and navigate the seas from one single command centre.
Lieutenant Colonel Chew Chun-Chau, head of the LMV project office, said it was necessary for the ships to be "highly flexible and configurable" given the evolving maritime security landscape and the need for the RSN to conduct more operations.
"It has been a very long and exciting journey, starting from a paper design all the way to the eventual construction, integration, testing, operationalisation and commissioning of the ship," he said.
SNAPSHOTS OF NAVY'S FIRST 50 YEARS TO BE PRESERVED
Singapore is in the middle of the busiest shipping lanes, and its maritime industry contributes S$28.17 billion, or seven per cent of the country's gross domestic product.
"At the heart of it, Singapore is a maritime nation,” Col Saw told Channel NewsAsia. “We depend on the freedom of access to the sea for our survival and continued prosperity and the RSN plays a vital role in this regard. Over the past 50 years the navy has been at the forefront of Singapore's defence."
Snapshots of these 50 years will be sealed during Navy Day in the form of a time capsule featuring approximately 70 items, including a framed poster commemorating the navy's first round-the-world voyage in 2000, during which the RSS Endurance visited nine ports in four months.
The RSN50 events will culminate in a public exhibition at VivoCity in November.