Sunday, May 3, 2020

Circuit breaker Day 27 pix: Republic of Singapore Navy RSN LSTs in Operation Blue Heron in East Timor

In 1999, I was assigned to cover the first Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) peace support mission in East Timor, codenamed Operation Blue Heron I (OBH I). It was my first time covering an SAF PSO. I was in Dili for about 14 days, hosted by Australian troops.

The Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN) upgraded tank landing ships, RSS Excellence L202 and RSS Intrepid L203, made multiple voyages between Darwin, Australia, to Dili in East Timor in support of the United Nations International Force East Timor (INTERFET). These resupply trips were called "milk runs".

The two images of Intrepid (above) give you an idea of the strong swells in Dili harbour. Note how part of the gangway hanging to the side of the ship has been swamped by the waves. In hindsight, I should've asked the FCEP to make a run to starboard of the LST as the light there was much better. 
RSS Excellence (right) seen anchored off Dili with a French Navy landing platform dock, FNS Siroco. 
The ability of the RSN's LSTs to load and unload cargo and vehicles with minimal pierside facilities like harbour cranes came in useful in Dili. RSS Excellence seen here after a milk run from Darwin. The small harbour was shared by warships assigned to INTERFET and TNI vessels like the LST below.

HMAS Jervis Bay, a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) wave piercing catamaran, had a distinctive profile and was easily identifiable offshore.

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