It's not crazy to join the navy, RSN says in new ad

An image still from a video posted by the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) on Monday. The 21/2-minute video is the centrepiece of the navy's latest recruitment campaign - It's Not Crazy, It's The Navy - aimed at Generation Z, or those born from the m
An image still from a video posted by the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) on Monday. The 2½-minute video is the centrepiece of the navy's latest recruitment campaign - It's Not Crazy, It's The Navy - aimed at Generation Z, or those born from the mid-1990s. But the RSN is also seeking applications across the board - from students to mid-career workers.PHOTO: REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE NAVY

"Join the navy? You must be crazy," a father tells his daughter and flings her duffel bag - presumably packed for her first day of enlistment - into a swimming pool.

This is the opening scene of a Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) video posted on Monday and sets the theme for its latest recruitment campaign: the way friends and family often react to news of a loved one signing on with the maritime force.

"We really wanted to tell people that it's not crazy to join the navy, if you understand our mission, our ideas and all the things that we do to ensure the safety, security and sovereignty of this country," said Colonel Ho Jee Kien, who heads the RSN's personnel department.

The action-packed, cinematic advertisement can be viewed on RSN's social media channels. It will be complemented by shorter clips on different navy vocations that will be rolled out over the year.

They form part of a new recruitment campaign seeking to appeal to Generation Z, or those born from the mid-1990s.

But the RSN also aims to attract applications across the board - from students and national service pre-enlistees to full-time national servicemen and mid-career workers.

This comes as Singapore braces itself for a one-third decline in the pool of servicemen by 2030, due to falling birth rates. In 2019, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen called this the "greatest internal challenge" the Singapore Armed Forces faces.

Still, the RSN has not set a recruitment target for its latest campaign. "What is important is not mass applications, but quality applications," said Major Eileen Sow, head of the Navy Recruitment Centre.

The hatch is also wide open for women, as suggested by the casting of a woman to kick off the 2½-minute video.

This also reflects what Maj Sow described as an "observable" increase in women interested in a naval career. "During my time in midshipmen school in the early 2000s, we had only four to five females per batch," she said. "Today, we are seeing between 10 and 20."

Maj Sow, 35, also told The Straits Times that going by conversations with applicants, the younger generation appear to place more value on organisational purpose and how they can serve the greater good. These traits, along with a spirit of resilience and dedication, are what the RSN is looking out for.

Col Ho, 46, added that the reality of Singapore as a maritime country - that counts on food and essentials also arriving by sea routes - has been brought into sharper focus over the past year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions.

"We wanted our audience to ponder the idea of protecting our lifeline and our livelihood," he concluded. "We believe it is crazier to leave your country undefended."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2021, with the headline 'It's not crazy to join the navy, RSN says in new ad'. Print Edition | Subscribe