Last NDP public rehearsal kicks off amid tighter security measures

Naval divers from the Naval Diving Unit's clearance diving group getting ready to go into the water.
Naval divers from the Naval Diving Unit's clearance diving group getting ready to go into the water.ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
Extra security measures were implemented at the preview show on July 29.
Extra security measures were implemented at the preview show on July 29.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Extra security measures were implemented at the preview show on July 29.
Extra security measures were implemented at the preview show on July 29.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob was the reviewing officer for NDP 2017 Preview on July 29, 2017.
Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob was the reviewing officer for NDP 2017 Preview on July 29, 2017.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The Marina Bay floating platform was awash in red and white on Saturday afternoon (July 29), as the last public rehearsal for the nation's biggest bash kicked off amid tighter security measures.

Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob observed the parade as reviewing officer, reprising a role she has taken on at every NDP preview since 2013 when the former backbencher took on the role.

The Speaker of Parliament and Defence Minister traditionally take on the role of reviewing officer during NDP previews, to inspect the military parade. Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen was the reviewing officer at the first NDP preview last Saturday (July 22).

During the NDP on Aug 9, President Tony Tan Keng Yam will inspect the military parade.

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The measures on Saturday are tighter than that at the first preview.

There are usually three National Education (NE) shows and two preview shows held before the actual National Day Parade (NDP) on Aug 9.

The NE shows are for primary school pupils  while the preview shows are open to members of the public who have tickets.

Spectators had their bags checked and walked through metal detectors before they entered the floating platform. The Helix Bridge was also closed to members of the public.

The tighter measures were implemented in preparation for the actual NDP on Aug 9.

But the crowd on Saturday was rewarded for their patience with a visual feast during Saturday's preview.

The display of Singapore's military might on land, air and sea was a crowd favourite, and a feature unique to a NDP held at the floating platform.

The Straits Times also went behind the scenes for a look at the underwater security sweeps performed by naval divers ahead of events such as the NDP.

A team of 10 divers from the elite Naval Diving Unit (NDU) scoped out the waters surrounding the platform ahead of the preview to ensure that there were no suspicious objects in the water.

Underwater visibility typically does not go beyond an outstretched arm, but the naval divers are equipped with devices that use sonar to track changes to the sea floor.

Captain (NS) Marcus Teo, 33, an operationally ready serviceman part of the NDU team, said of his involvement: "While it is not part of the main show, NDU operations in NDP 2017 is significant and relevant, as we ensure that waters surrounding the platform are safe."