Later this month, the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) will play host to a large gathering of naval vessels as part of celebrations for its 50th anniversary (RSN50).
From May 7, about 30 warships from 20 countries – including the United States, China, Japan, Russia, and Australia – will participate in the group sail in three fleets led by the RSN, officials confirmed late last week. As part of this, the warships will take part in the Western Pacific Naval Symposium Multilateral Sea Exercise, where Singapore will lead in practicing the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).
As I have noted before, CUES is a series of protocols negotiated back in 2014 at the Western Pacific Naval Symposium for the safety of vessels meeting at sea. The expansion of CUES has been touted by Singapore, the United States, and others as one of a series of interim steps to defuse tensions in the South China Sea (See: “Singapore Wants to Defuse South China Sea Tensions With Naval Protocol”).
Upon their arrival in Singapore, the ships will take part in the first-ever International Maritime Review (IMR) organized by the city-state on May 15. More than 4,000 guests are expected to attend the inaugural IMR, including 30 navy and coast guard chiefs, a scale which RSN50 organizing committee deputy chairman Colonel Saw Shi Tat told reporters last Friday was “testament of the friendship we have forged with friends and partners from all over the world.”
Singapore’s President Tony Tan Keng Yam will be the reviewing officer for IMR, which will include a review of the warships and a parade. During the review, Changi Naval Base will be officially named RSS Singapura – Changi Naval Base.
A host of other activities are also planned for RSN50 this month. Among the highlights, on May 5, which is Navy Day, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will commission Independence, the first of eight RSN Littoral Mission Vessels (LMV) that are locally-built and designed in the city-state. As I noted earlier, the new LMVs will constitute a marked improvement from their predecessors, the Fearless-class patrol vessels (See: “What Do We Know About Singapore’s New Warship?”).
There will also be a ceremonial hoisting of the RSN ensign at Changi Naval Base on May 5 at 5:55 pm – the exact moment when a similar ceremony was held in Telok Ayer Basin to mark the birth of the RSN. When the RSN came into force on May 5, 1967, it had just two wooden ships. Lee will also seal a time capsule with dozens of items from the RSN’s recent developments, with the capsule set to reopen in 2042.
RSN50 events are expected to continue through the year, including workshops during the June school holidays and a public exhibition and tours in November.