Underwater graduation parade for navy divers

The 73 men from the Naval Diving Unit standing at attention on the floor of a swimming pool during their passing out parade last week. This is the first time the parade has been held underwater in Singapore.
The 73 men from the Naval Diving Unit standing at attention on the floor of a swimming pool during their passing out parade last week. This is the first time the parade has been held underwater in Singapore.PHOTO: GLEN ANG

A four-metre-deep dive pool became the parade square for 73 men who were declared combat-ready divers in an unusual underwater graduation parade - the first in Singapore.

The newly minted frogmen from the Naval Diving Unit stayed submerged and stood at attention on the floor of a pool during the hour-long ceremony in Sembawang Camp last week.

Instead of being dressed in ceremonial parade regalia, they were in full naval gear, which included diving fins, oxygen tanks and breathing masks.

And instead of a march-past, the elite frogmen, among the toughest fighters in the armed forces, swam across the pool.

Even the reviewing officer, Rear-Admiral Tan Wee Beng, RSN's Chief of Staff (Naval Staff) - wearing a mask and oxygen tank - swam underwater to inspect the two contingents. Watching their loved ones from the gallery were more than 300 family members and friends.

The parade capped four months of gruelling training, which included salvage operations, underwater demolition and mine disposal, as well as tackling piracy and terrorist threats such as safeguarding warships in naval bases.

An underwater parade like this has been held in the Canadian Army Dive School before.

The RSN's Dive School commanding officer Sng Meng Wah, 43 - and this year's National Day Parade commander - came up with the idea of holding such a parade here.

The Defence Ministry said that it was "a good opportunity for the graduands to showcase to their families and friends the training they have undergone".

jermync@sph.com.sg