Naval Strategies: How the Republic of Singapore Navy fights Maritime

Naval Strategies: How the Republic of Singapore Navy fights Maritime
  • PublishedMarch 15, 2023
RSS Formidable

The Singapore Navy is much younger than other countries, yet it must still form international collaborations with them for support. Similarly, this Navy faces challenges like smuggling, human trafficking and similar crimes, which it must control through its naval strategy. Learn how this Navy faces threats and enemies and what the future holds for the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).

History of the Singapore Navy

The Republic of Singapore Navy’s history goes back to 1934, when it was first formed on April 20 and known as The Straits Settlement Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. During the Second World War, it transformed into the Malayan Volunteer Reserve in 1941. In 1952 the Singapore government named it the Royal Malayan Navy, which transitioned into the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) when Singapore became an official Malayan state on September 16, 1963.

Between 1963 and 1975, the RSN underwent many further changes, including transferring the volunteer reserve to the RMN, which was renamed the Singapore Volunteer Force (SVF). When Singapore gained independence in 1965 and became a part of the Commonwealth of Nations on August 9, the SVF was called the Singapore Naval Volunteer Force (SNVF) and had two wooden ships.

The name changed again to the People’s Defense Force (Sea) in 1967, which fell under the authority of the Sea Defense Command (SDC). In 1968, the SCD became the Maritime Command (MC) and, finally, the RSN on April 1, 1975.

Singapore Navy collaborations, fighting crime, and threats

Like any other navy, the Singapore Navy has to fight off threats and combat crimes that threaten its marine ecology and sovereignty as a nation. To do this, the Navy forms international collaborations and alliances to protect its territorial waters.

International collaboration

The Indian Navy regularly hosts a multilateral naval exercise (MILAN) in which the RSN and over 40 other countries participate. Since beginning this training collaboration in 1995, Singapore has joined the exercises held biannually without fail.

Another alliance is the Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training exercise (SEACAT), which focuses on maintaining a secure maritime region. It does this through regular training, search and seizure protocols, and using unmanned aerial systems to increase understanding of challenges. So, the Singapore Navy creates international and local alliances to protect its seaboard and trade routes.

Singapore grants tenancy to the U.S. Coast Guard, Marine Inspection Detachment (MIDET), and the U.S. 7th Fleet uses the Sembawang base to exercise its Pacific and Southeast Asia operations. The RSN allows the Indian Navy to access this same port when escorting U.S. naval ships and patrol boats through the Malacca Straits.

How Singapore fights naval crimes

The Singaporean Navy works with its Indonesian and Malaysian neighbors to fight threats in its waters. Surveillance and patrolling occur jointly in the coastal waters around Singapore and the Malacca Strait. The Navy also enlists the help of maritime patrol aircraft from its air force to support its endeavors in fighting pirates in its waters and internationally.

To achieve its joint goal of protecting its waters, the Navy has participated in the multinational Combined Task Force 151 off the Gulf of Aden. The RSN also engages in regular joint foreign exercises locally and abroad and constantly maintains a visible presence in its territorial waters to discourage threats.

This country also participates in the Regional Plan of Action to Promote Responsible Fishing Practices. Additionally, Singapore subscribes to the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing initiative to protect its resources.

Singapore Navy threats and enemies

The RSN is one of the busiest global sea lanes and must take precautions to protect its lucrative trade routes. In the process, the RSN faces threats like terrorism and piracy in the waters around Singapore and the Strait of Malacca. This country also faces illegal fishing that harms its natural resources and marine ecology. Yet another threat is drug smuggling and trafficking in the territorial waters around this country.

Future of the Singpore Navy

Because Singapore is so strategically located in terms of its sea lines of communication (SLOCs), it must make every effort to protest these assets. The country has made great strides by setting aside massive defense budgets to develop a “next-generation” military force by 2040.

Besides investing in surface and subsurface vessels, the Navy has invested in advanced unmanned systems. It has also enhanced its regional network alliances to fight security issues with various modern ships.

The Navy will continue developing its major bases in Changi and Tuas as the first line of defense to protect its people and economy. This defense concentrates on threats in the South China Sea and the Singapore and Malacca straits.

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