Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Circuit breaker Day 23 pix: Mystery auxiliary ship RSS Enterprise A 301

Big day: The late Dr Goh Keng Swee, then Minister for Defence, arrives at Pulau Brani to officiate at the commissioning ceremony for RSS Enterprise (seen here) and two minesweepers, RSS Mercury and RSS Jupiter. The name plate attached to the bridge wing is unusual because it includes the "RSS" prefix. Usual convention just indicates the ship's name in raised capitalised gold lettering, for example Sea Wolf or Endurance. (Photo: National Archives of Singapore)

In the United States Navy, ships called Enterprise are well known. The WW2 aircraft carrier Enterprise played a major role in the Battle of Midway. The US Navy named its first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. The name got a major boost after the popular Star Trek TV series named its thespian starship Enterprise.

Here in Singapore, the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) auxiliary ship, RSS Enterprise (A 301), was one of the Navy's lesser known vessels. 

Few Singaporeans would have heard of her and almost nothing exists on Google about the ship. She's more stealthy than even the Formidable-class stealth frigates when it comes to digital footprint. Apart from some national archives pictures of her 1977 commissioning ceremony, there's no information online or in RSN anniversary books on RSS Enterprise. Who built her, what was her role, who formed her crew and what was her fate remains a mystery.

Enterprise was commissioned on 27 February 1977 at Pulau Brani together with the minesweepers, RSS Mercury and RSS Jupiter. For a ship of that era, Enterprise had a clean and modern looking bridge with a short mast topped by a navigation radar and an angular smoke stack. She had a crane mounted on her deck amidships, giving the auxiliary the ability to load and unload cargo on her own.

Enterprise had no gun mounts visible though RSN warships at the time had pintle mounts for 12.7mm Brownings. 

Two lift raft stations suggest a small crew, estimated around 30 officers and men. (Photo: National Archives of Singapore)
RSS Enterprise seen sandwiched between Brani Wharf and two minesweepers, RSS Jupiter and RSS Mercury. The picture was taken in 1983 when my family and I took a ferry to Sentosa for an outing. The ferry used the jetty next to Serapong Golf Course, which was opposite Brani Naval Base. I digitised the print photo to black and white as the colours in the photo have faded. I regret not taking more pictures.
RSS Enterprise (A 301) on her commissioning day watched by Missile Gunboats and tank landing ships (LSTs). Enterprise appears to have a degaussing cable around her hull, which leads to the suggestion that she could have been acquired to support the two minesweepers. Bravo Whiskey is now used by the Singapore Police Coast Guard. When this picture was taken, the Navy had yet to discover that there were unexploded bombs in the channel, Selat Sengkir. (Photo: National Archives of Singapore)

If you've more information on this mystery ship RSS Enterprise or her crew, I'd love to hear from you.

1 comment:

Foo Mun said...

I used to serve my NS in Brani Naval Base from 1979 to 1981. Saw the ship everyday. I was told by RSN regulars that some South Vietnamese officers and sailors took their families and sailed it to Singapore to seek a passage to US. It was used as a RSN radar platform at Horsburgh Lighthouse before a proper radar was installed at Pedra Branca.