The gathering of navies from around the world to celebrate the Singapore navy's 50th birthday is testament to Singapore's strong network of global friendships, which is all the more critical as security challenges have become increasingly transnational, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said yesterday.
Noting how multilateral cooperation is key to ensuring a stable maritime order as well as safe and secure seas, he added: "The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) has built up a strong and well-connected network of partnerships with like- minded navies."
This is because most of the security threats like piracy cannot be effectively managed by a single country, Dr Tan said after he was welcomed by a parade of international sailors at Changi Naval Base.
For instance, the RSN's stealth frigates and landing ship tanks have taken part in multilateral counter- piracy operations, and Singapore also - on four occasions - took command of the Combined Task Force 151 fighting piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
"In the challenging and uncertain security environment today, having only good hardware and strong capabilities is not sufficient," said Dr Tan.
To celebrate the RSN's golden jubilee, 46 vessels - including 28 from 20 foreign navies - formed up in the waters off Changi Naval Base for Singapore's first International Maritime Review.
Kicking off the review, Dr Tan boarded an open-top vehicle to review the docked ships, whose sailors cheered as he passed by. He then boarded the recently commissioned Littoral Mission Vessel RSS Independence for a review of the remaining warships anchored off the base.
The review was held in conjunction with this year's edition of the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference Asia, which Dr Tan noted is a crucial platform for naval leaders to exchange views on topics like maritime cooperation.
Dr Tan also announced the renaming of Changi Naval Base to RSS Singapura-Changi Naval Base.
As RSS Singapura was the name of the RSN's first headquarters, it will remind Singapore's sailors of the navy's heritage and its vital role in defending the country, said Dr Tan, who officiated the foundation-laying of the base as deputy prime minister and defence minister in 2000.
Navy chief Lai Chung Han, in his opening address, thanked Dr Tan for his role as defence minister from 1995 to 2003 in developing the navy's landing ship tank, frigate and submarine capabilities. These assets, he said, now form the core of the third-generation RSN.
Dr Tan said a highlight of his visit to the navy last year was seeing the Archer-class submarines, as he was pleased to see the submarine capability built up so quickly.
"I am confident the navy will continue to enhance its capabilities to address the evolving security landscape we are facing," he said.