The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has taken over the command of a multinational counter-piracy task force – Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 – from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force.
A change of command ceremony was held yesterday at the Naval Support Activity, Bahrain. It was witnessed by Vice-Admiral Scott A. Stearney, Commander of the Combined Maritime Forces, and attended by Rear-Admiral Lew Chuen Hong, Singapore’s Chief of Navy.
This is the fifth time that the SAF will be leading CTF 151 since it was set up in 2009. It is also the 11th SAF deployment to contribute to multinational anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.
Since 2009, Singapore has deployed over 1,400 military personnel, five ships, one maritime patrol aircraft, four SAF command teams, five task groups and one air detachment.
Said Rear-Admiral Saw Shi Tat, leader of SAF’s command team, during the ceremony: “As a maritime nation, Singapore’s economic lifeline and success are inextricably linked to the security and uninhibited flow of seaborne trade, making it essential for Singapore to contribute towards safeguarding these shipping lanes.”
RADM Saw added that he is honoured to serve alongside a team from 11 other countries and sees the varied expertise as “the key strength of our team”.
They come from various countries such as South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia and United Kingdom.
For Major Sing Geok Wei, it is her second time being deployed on this mission.
This year, she is the Deployment Planning Cell Lead, who works with the national representatives from different countries to plan counter-piracy exercises and operations out at sea.
“We might have come from different parts of the world with cultural, religious, language differences, but we have a common mission to ensure the maritime security in the region,” said Maj Sing, 34.
She said that going on the mission might mean being unable to see her younger brother and sister for more than a year, as they are pursuing an internship in Beijing and studies in the US respectively.
But her family is very supportive of her decision to contribute to the peace and security of the region.
Maj Sing said the expected temperature during this period can go beyond 50 deg C. Despite the heat, she has shared a part of Singapore with the other international crew members by letting them taste her mother’s homemade chilli.
“A Brazilian and a Japanese, both intelligence officers, found it very spicy,” she added.