27 Juli 2010
When Colonel (COL) (Ret) Kelvin Chng was still a senior instructor in Midshipman School 25 years ago, he dreamed of the day when the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) would have a dedicated training ship. One that is designed to meet the navigation and training needs of the RSN.
Today, as a Senior Director in ST Education and Training Pte Ltd (STET), his dream was finally realised when a commercial ship, named the STET Polaris, was made available for the RSN's training requirements from June this year.
On board the STET Polaris at its delivery ceremony on 30 Jun, COL (Ret) Chng said: "For the past eight years, we (STET) have been providing instructors to do training for the Navy. Over and above just providing the manpower, we are now providing training resources, which is the training ship."
"So the Navy gets their ship for training, without the need to put in manpower to maintain the ship, because this is taken care of by us, the vendor.
"Having a dedicated training ship is definitely good news for the RSN, said Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Neo Meng Keong, who is the Commanding Officer of the Navigation School.
"Whenever trainees train using our warships, it typically requires about 30 RSN personnel to sail the ship in support of the training task. With a commercial ship now, it only requires about four crew to man the ship, so there's a lot of manpower savings."
"Also, training on a commercial ship frees up our warships to do more operational tasks," he added.
The trainees whom cyberpioneer spoke to also gave the thumbs-up for the new training ship, explaining how it helps to boost their training.
Lieutenant Victor Loh, an Additional Officer in the Training Command (TRACOM), said: "Everything on the STET Polaris has been custom-built to cater to our training needs."
"For example, the equipment on board the ship has all been carefully considered, from the layout of the bridge, to the radar, to the Electronic Chart Display Information System (ECDIS). These are extremely essential for our training, and with this dedicated platform, it helps to raise our navigation standards to a higher level," he said.
Captain Neo Wei Siong, an Officer-under-training in TRACOM, added: "The shallow draught of the ship also enables us to explore new training areas, such as narrow channels that are difficult for warships to pass through.
"Besides having customised facilities and equipment, another advantage of the STET Polaris is that training on the ship can be scheduled whenever there is a need for trainees to have hands-on practice, said LTC Neo.
"It provides a more seamless transition from the knowledge that the trainees get in the classroom, to what they actually experience on the ship during their practical sessions.
"Captain Michelle Chia agreed. The Officer-under-training in TRACOM said: "Unlike a warship that is subject to operational schedules, we are able to have more frequent sea sorties for training."
"With more opportunities for hands-on practice, this benefits trainees who may require more sailings to gain more confidence and feel more competent to sail a ship," she added.
The STET Polaris was built by Sam Aluminium Engineering Pte Ltd. Its length and breadth measures 25m and 6.6m respectively, and it has a draft of 1.3m. The training ship has a complement crew of four and a capacity of 30 people.