Wednesday, July 29, 2020

National Day Parade 2020: Final Sea Review rehearsal off Marina South

The National Day Parade 2020 Sail Past held its fourth and final rehearsal this morning off Marina South amid bouts of heavy rain that came and went sporadically.

It was a pleasure seeing familiar silhouettes of Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) surface combatants appear in between numerous anchored merchant ships as they led the Sail Past columns westward towards the Eastern Anchorage. The columns - one of nine larger ships and a smaller "speedster column" of four small fast craft - then made two starboard turns to point their bows east.

Here's the 1300H to 1330H rehearsal as it unfolded. This was the only one I could catch during the lunch break.
The tank landing ship RSS Endeavour (210) and stealth frigate (FFS) Steadfast (70) at the second turn point.
Ensigns unfurled, the Singapore Navy LST Endeavour, FFS Steadfast, Missile Corvette Valour and Littoral Mission Vessel Fearless align themselves parallel to Marina South.

Endeavour looked dapper with her crew on deck. Looks abit naked with all those empty davits and no helo on deck. Here's what her sistership, Resolution, looks like crammed to the gills with FCEP landing craft.

Steadfast with crew on deck in their Number 1 ceremonial whites.
Valour's crew presented a smart turnout with a large number of them lining her rails. Probably the best looking dressed ship in the column. Compare and contrast the rather sparse headcount aboard Fearless (probably a result of high levels of automation).

Along the way, Fearless was joined by a little friend. Barely visible from shore. No photoshop. She blended so nicely with the waves. Can you spot her?

Friday, July 24, 2020

National Day Parade Sail Past 2020

Source: MAphotoSG Facebook

The fourth final National Day Parade 2020 Sail Past rehearsal is due to take place from 0900H to 1400H in the Eastern Anchorage, just off the Marina Barrage. Nearest MRT: Marina South Pier.

Three previous rehearsals were done in June. These involved 12 ships from the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), Singapore Police Coast Guard and Maritime & Port Authority.

Participating vessels were observed sailing line astern in two separate columns. 

Composition of the main body:
Endurance-class LST, Formidable-class stealth frigate, Victory-class missile corvette, Independence-class Littoral Mission Vessel, plus PCG PH-class, 1xSCDF and 2xMPA.

Speedster column was made up of four small craft from the Navy, PCG and SCDF.

The NDP 2020 Sail Past will be telecast as part of the morning segment of this year's parade to mark Singapore's 55th year of independence.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Public Service Announcement: National Day Parade 2020 Mobile Column

Some of you have asked about tomorrow's National Day Parade (NDP) rehearsal at the Padang.

Just to be clear and manage expectations on the Mobile Column: There will be NO A-VEHICLES AT THE PADANG. Due to COVID-19, the training format for this year's Mobile Column is different from last year's NDP. So don't expect to see the form-up point near the F1 Pit Building and along Nicoll Highway crammed to the gills with AFVs. In short, there's no Mobile Column at the Padang tomorrow.

The contingents that will be reviewed at the Padang will also be much smaller.

Security personnel will be on hand to manage crowds. Please be mindful of social distancing rules during Circuit Breaker Phase 2. Better still, wait for the NDP 2020 Mobile Column to come to you in the heartlands. Will update once details are available.

There will be some flying by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) in the morning. Expect to see F-15SGs buzz the heartlands at low level - as some of you witnessed during the RSAF Internal Rehearsal recently. Thank you 142 SQN for the hard work behind-the-scenes.

Will be watching from home.
Stay Safe.

You may also like:
NDP 2020 RSAF Internal Rehearsal. Click here

Thursday, June 25, 2020

National Day Parade 2020 fly past rehearsal 1

A big "Thank You!" to friends around the island who kept my phone buzzing with updates this morning as the National Day Parade fly past rehearsal got underway.

Thanks to your keen eye, we managed to track the formation of five Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) F-15SG Strike Eagles as they circled Singapore repeatedly even as many of us were committed to work-from-home arrangements. (Note: I wasn't at the window staring into oblivion. Don't have to with chat apps providing near realtime updates and pictures.)

Weather conditions this morning were perfect for low level flying. After weathering two consecutive days of pre-dawn Sumatras on Monday and Tuesday this week, the dry weather, sunny skies and gentle breeze were a welcome change.

The RSAF Heli Group was active too. At least two formations of helicopters were seen. Each comprised a CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter accompanied by two AH-64D Apache attack helicopters. The Chinook rehearsed without the Singapore flag, which is usually carried underslung from its cargo hook.

Paya Lebar Air Base, which is the home base for the F-15SGs, was busy on Thursday afternoon with static line paradrops from a C-130 Hercules sharing the air space with flights of F-15s.

NDP 2020 flypast rehearsal dates:
June 25: 8.55am-11.30am

July 4, July 11, July 18, July 25: 8.55am-11.30am

Aug 1, Aug 9, Aug 10: 8.55am-11.30am

An RSAF Chinook and two Apaches seen practising for the NDP 2020 flag fly past during the RSAF's first internal rehearsal for this year's parade. Every image and sighting report is welcome as they help contribute to the bigger picture. Thank you all.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

National Day Parade 2020 flypast rehearsal

This arrow formation of six Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) F-15SGs will soar across Singapore tomorrow morning. The flight will be part of the RSAF's first internal rehearsal for this year's National Day Parade (NDP).

The Air Force will use the internal rehearsal to verify and fine-tune the NDP 2020 flypast holding areas, flight routes and time-over-target at key locations.

Personnel from the RSAF's Paya Lebar-based 142 Squadron (3 Jul 2020 edit) 149 Squadron, which operates the American-built F-15SG Strike Eagle, were observed training hard for the flypast in recent weeks.

The above picture was taken today around lunchtime as the arrowhead returned to base.

Let's hope for clear skies tomorrow.

NDP 2020 flypast rehearsal dates:
June 25: 8.55am-11.30am

July 4, July 11, July 18, July 25: 8.55am-11.30am

Aug 1, Aug 9, Aug 10: 8.55am-11.30am

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Senang Diri Blog Time-out

Sunrise on Monday 1 June 2020,  the dawn my father never lived to see.

Dear Friends,
The Senang Diri blog will take a time-out of a month or more from today.

My dad died at home on Sunday 31 May 2020 at the age of 85. He left peacefully and with us by his side, which is the way he always wanted. We sent him off yesterday. Father Vaz delivered a beautiful service and his solo rendition of Nearer, My God, to Thee as we bid my dad a last goodbye from this world helped with closure and will ring in my ears till my dying days. As you can imagine, am in uncharted territory as my brother, sister and I have never lost a parent before. So navigating what's required is taking up our time outside of work and I appeal for your understanding as we tie up the many loose ends.

I will still attend to your comments. But by and large, spare time for writing will be spent on another pursuit. Please don't conflate blog time-out with lack of energy on other fronts. Things continue to move, just offline.

This COVID-19 Circuit Breaker has allowed me to see firsthand some fictional events I wrote about in a story. The crush of humanity ahead of the Causeway closure, the emptied out terminals at Changi Airport following the unprecedented reduction of flights to Singapore, panic buying in supermarkets were all described in the Period of Tension chapters. Nothing beats seeing it unfold online and in real life. I made several trips to the supermarket just to experience the madness. What has not happened for real is the impact of a Lloyd's war risk rating on shipping in regional sea lanes. My friends and I relied on our imagination for this part of the story. We hope the story sounds credible as we took some effort to calculate the war risk premiums and imagine its impact on shipping movements rather than pluck figures from thin air. Surface vessel movements affect shipping density, which is a factor that will help the reader understand the nature of the battlespace before he/she flips to the pages where air and sea battles are fought in a congested maritime environment. So when Bruisers are set loose and Magnums fly, you can picture how a small, determined force and even a single SSK can upset the odds. I hope the fight scenes sound real enough to keep readers enthralled. 

On another note, my term with MINDEF's Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD) comes to an end this August after three renewals over more than six years. I thank NEXUS for its stewardship of ACCORD, and all the men and women from Singapore Armed Forces and Home Team units whom I met during my time with the council.

Thank you for visiting the Senang Diri blog.

Stay strong during this pandemic.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Circruit breaker Day 56 (last day) pix: Singapore Armed Forces SAF old warriors

Adieu Intrepid: The decommissioned Republic of Singapore Navy tank landing ship, RSS Intrepid, seen at the breaker's yard. Till the very end, the LST was kept shipshape as is evident from the condition of her internal compartments and bulkheads. 

We've made it to the last day of the Circuit Breaker (CB) period in Singapore! The past few months of the CB was aimed at keeping people in the city-state at home in order to break the chain of transmissions of Covid-19 in the community.

We hope the series of Circuit Breaker pictures and stories have kept you entertained during this period.

Our last instalment gives you a look at what happens to retired Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) platforms. Admittedly, not pretty. But just as new acquisitions excite us, the retirement and decommissioning of old platforms represents the last phase and a fact of life for Singapore's Life Cycle Management approach to defence acquisitions.

Unlike some defence forces, the SAF does not have a tradition of keeping decommissioned platforms in running condition. Perhaps as our armed forces evolves, it may be worth rethinking this policy. There are sufficient numbers of skilled and interested private citizens in Singapore who can contribute the time and expertise to keep old war machines in running condition, just as enthusiasts have been able to keep warbirds and old war machines going decades after they were retired.

Gone but never forgotten.
Resting place: After long and distinguished service as the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) most numerous warplane in the 1970s through till the 1990s, retired RSAF A-4 Skyhawk carcasses are stacked like logs at a scrapyard in Jurong in 1999. The RSAF has about a dozen A-4 airframes in museum-quality condition at Tengah and Paya Lebar.
Circle of life: Singapore Army AMX-13 SM1 light tanks are cut up for scrap in Singapore following their retirement in the 2000s. Steel from these tanks was recycled as rebar and sheet metal plates.