We’ve had two interesting experiences in the past month as far as the military is concerned.
|A rare chance to go on board the RSS Persistence!|
Less than a week ago, we were in New York touring the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, which is housed on board the retired legendary aircraft carrier – the USS Intrepid. On exhibit are war and space machines that have made history (these were the real thing, retired but definitely not replicas). They included, among many, the Space Shuttle Orbiter USS Enterprise, the A-12 Blackbird, the British Airways Concorde and the USS Growler Submarine which carried 4 nuclear missiles, used strategically to deter Russia during the Cold War. Needless to say, we were awestruck by the exhibits and even more so by the stories of how these machines made their mark in the annals of history. Like any world-class museums, there were guides and docents around to enrich visitors’ experience. However, despite all these, we felt something was lacking.
A week prior to our US trip, we attended the Republic of Singapore Navy’s Navy@ Vivo event where our Navy’s largest warship – the Landing Ships Tank RSS Persistence was berthed. It was one of the annual public engagement events by the Navy which allowed the public to know the Navy better. We were impressed by the advanced war machines and inspired by the officers’ accounts of how they were involved in various humanitarian and defence exercises including providing relief to victims of the 2011 Tsunami as well as protecting ships from pirates at our major seaways.
|A salute and thanks to the men, women and officers behind the Navy.|
In addition to the exhibits, the booth setup in Vivocity extended the public’s experience with simulator activities, photo opportunities as well as a chance to collect one of the many commemorative coins minted by the Navy. Families were given opportunity to ballot for a chance to board the FCU (Fast Craft Utilities) used for transporting personnel and materials (such as food and medical aid) to shore. Visitors were also treated to the Sundown Ceremony – a Navy tradition where the state flag is lowered at dusk.
|Republic of Singapore Navy: Protecting our shores and ports.|
|Observing the Sundown Ceremony.|
All in, there were ample activities, exhibits and experiences to give the public an enlightening time at Navy@Vivo. However what stood out for us were not the hardware but the ‘heart’ware.
|Onboard the RSS Persistence.|
|At the launch deck of the FCU – hot and humid but the Navy personnel worked tirelessly to give all a pleasant and memorable experience.|
Down below the main deck where throngs of families and children were queuing up for the FCU ride in the blazing afternoon sun, we saw the Navy personnel, tearing away at the plastic shrink-wrap of mineral water bottles and passing them cheerfully to the crowds while they themselves endure the heat and humidity in their uniforms. Further on, we saw how these personnel would extend their hand to help visitors go onto the FCU safely and off it. Children and the elderly were given assistance as they negotiated the narrow and steep corridors of the ship. When the skies opened, the same personnel hurried around ferrying visitors with the big Navy brollies so that no one is caught in the downpour.
Behind the scene, personnel worked tirelessly round the clock, looking into every detail to ensure the public’s experience were smooth and enjoyable. They manned their stations and interacted with visitors with pride and cheerful countenances, despite the noise, the heat and the fatigue setting in. Commitment in action: these were the very moments that stood out for us.
|The narration made the FCU ride informative.|
|Daddy and Dana enjoying a Sunday ‘cruise’ on board the FCU.|
While we know that technological advancement is key for any country’s defence, these high-tech machines are only be as good as the hands behind it. An army is only as good as the hearts that drive it. For we know that it is not machines that guard a country but importantly it’s the hearts of these officers, these ladies and gentlemen of the Navy that makes the Navy effective – a heart for the people they live each day to serve, to defend and to protect.
As parents, we strive for teachable moments to build a strong National Identity in our daughter and through this Navy@Vivo visit, we felt our purpose was galvanized. We were very privileged to catch a glimpse into the commitment of the people behind the Singapore Navy and share this dedication with her.
|The RSS Persistence berthed at Vivocity.|
|Bye!…We hope to be back next year!|