Confusing to have two names in one for naval base

I am sorry if my comments on the naming of RSS Singapura - Changi Naval Base upset naval veterans such as Mr Adrian Villanueva ("RSS Singapura name in line with naval tradition"; Feb 22).

I had reservations because the new name contains two proper nouns "Singapura" and "Changi".

It is likely that, over time, practical everyday usage would result in the naval base being called "Singapura" or "Changi", but not both in the same breath. This would make the whole exercise of the name change superfluous.

It may be less confusing if the base is simply known as RSS Singapura Naval Base.

However, I believe a case can be made for the assertion that "Changi" resonates more with the public than "RSS Singapura".

Notwithstanding RSS Singapura's history, Changi also has impressive credentials.

For instance, it is the first deep-berth naval base - at 6.2km for the biggest aircraft carriers - in the world. I am proud to say that I had a hand in helping to determine the first foreign ships to be invited to use the base.

We can remember ships as a matter of tradition, but we should not forget naval bases either.

I do not agree that having a naval tradition to name a base after a ship justifies the act itself.

By that token, shouldn't we also rename Tuas Naval Base after a ship?

It should be noted that many established naval bases are named after locations rather than ships. For example, the largest naval base in the world is Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia.

Let us not confuse Singapura, the country we all love, with the ship bearing the same name.

Perhaps it would be better to name our naval base after a ship that has had milestone achievements, such as:

•the first naval ship sent for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief;

•the first naval ship sent for international peacekeeping; or

•the first home-made warship.

I hope the Ministry of Defence will engage more varied stakeholders and choose the name of bases more astutely, while considering the political, historical and practical angles.

Such conversations will bring us all closer together as a nation.

Sunny Goh (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'Confusing to have two names in one for naval base'. Print Edition | Subscribe