RSS Endurance (photo : Cyberpioneer)Ask Lieutenant (LTA) Wu Yiheng why he is spending months away from family and friends patrolling the sea 7,400 km away from home, and he will gladly tell you that it is "a rare opportunity to be involved in real operations". And the countless hours of training and preparation he has been through have been put to the test in the 15 sorties he has flown in the Gulf of Aden thus far.
The Super Puma pilot is part of the Singapore Armed Forces Task Group (SAF TG), which is deployed under the ambit of the multinational Combined Task Force (CTF 151) and engaged in operations to deter and disrupt piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
The TG consists of Landing Ship Tank RSS Endurance and two Super Puma helicopters, as well as a Sea Security Unit comprising members from the Army and Navy, and a medical support team. In total, 221 personnel from all three Services are serving in the TG.
The TG began the deployment in June and was recently visited by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean at sea on 31 Aug.
Speaking about his experience on RSS Endurance, Naval Diver Master Sergeant Louis Chang said: "It has been a very fruitful experience having the three arms come together to work together as one SAF. We share the same goal, mission success." This was echoed by LTA Wu, who noted that there was a lot of professional sharing between the Air Force and Navy. "Whatever we do better, we impart to the others and whatever they do better, we learn and try to adapt into our system," the pilot said.
RSS Endurance's mission is the third deployment from the SAF to CTF 151 to aid the ongoing anti-piracy efforts. The RSS Endurance's sister ship, RSS Persistence, and two Super Puma helicopters were deployed to the Gulf of Aden between April and July 2009. From January to April, CTF 151 was commanded by the SAF's Rear-Admiral Bernard Miranda.