NDP 2020: Maritime sail-past returns to National Day Parade after 20 years; will involve 13 vessels gliding past Marina Bay skyline

The Navy's Formidable-class Frigate (back) sailing alongside the Specialised Marine Craft during the media preview for the NDP maritime sail-past on July 29, 2020. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Captain Jane Tan comes from a family with front-line workers.

But while her mother and sister are nurses, the 28-year-old spends most of her time at sea as a navigation officer with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).

Come Aug 9, she will get to shine a spotlight on front-line agencies that keep the waters around Singapore safe, through the National Day Parade maritime sail-past that is returning after a 20-year hiatus.

Said Capt Tan: "I depend on my family for support at home, but I don't get to spend as much time with them or to take care of them. By participating in this maritime sail-past, at least they get to know what I'm doing and how I help to support and protect the nation at times when they don't see me around."

As a navigation officer, she helps to ensure a ship is able to move safely amid various weather conditions and proximity to other vessels.

Capt Tan has been with the navy for three years and will help navigate the navy's Independence-class Littoral Mission Vessel RSS Fearless during the sail-past.

She views the event as "one front-line thanking the other".

"Singapore is a maritime nation and it's also made of people. While the healthcare workers protect people, we protect the maritime side of Singapore - it's where food supply and global connectivity come in.

"If these are not secure, you'll start to see Singapore having a lack of resources."

She is among 300 people from the navy and various public agencies who will take part in the sail-past at 10.50am on National Day. The event will be broadcast live on television as part of the day's festivities.

Captain Jane Tan and Senior Staff Sergeant Siah Yong Cheng are among 300 people from the navy and various public agencies who will take part in the sail-past at 10.50am on National Day. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Thirteen vessels will set sail at the Marina South Pier and glide across waters spanning a distance that includes a 4km stretch of the Marina Bay skyline. The vessels will sound their ship horns for 15 seconds towards the end of the sail-past, in an expression of maritime unity and a call for Singaporeans to stand together in solidarity.

During the sail-past, the vessels will form two columns sailing in formation - a main column with nine vessels, and a "speedster" column with four vessels travelling up to about 30 knots.

The vessels are from the navy, the Police Coast Guard (PCG), the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).

The ships in the main column include the Endurance-class Landing Ship Tank RSS Endeavour, the Victory-class Missile Corvette RSS Valour, as well as the Formidable-class Frigate RSS Steadfast and Independence-class Littoral Mission Vessel RSS Fearless.

The latter two vessels are taking part in the sail-past for the first time.

Other vessels in the column are the PCG's PH-class coastal patrol craft, the SCDF's heavy fire vessel Red Sailfish and heavy rescue vessel Red Manta, and the MPA's patrol craft MPA 1.

The boats in the "speedster" column comprise the navy's specialised marine craft and combatant craft medium, the PCG's PT-class Patrol Interdiction Boat and the SCDF's Rapid Response Fire Vessel White Swordfish.

The RSN's combatant craft medium sails past the Formidable-class Frigate RSS Steadfast during a media preview. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SCDF and MPA are taking part for the first time in a National Day parade sail-past.

There will be various safe management measures to protect sail-past participants amid the coronavirus pandemic. These include segregating cohorts of crew members and regular wipe-downs, especially for the common spaces of the vessels.

The SCDF's heavy rescue vessel. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
The MPA's patrol craft MPA 1. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Asked why the sail-past is returning after 20 years, Lieutenant-Colonel Goh Tan, who is the navy's commander of the maritime sail-past task group, said the event is timely to remind Singaporeans of the importance of maritime agencies amid the pandemic.

He added that the work of maritime agencies is often intangible, but important nonetheless.

"We operate in the sea, away from the heartland areas, and most Singaporeans are not sensitised to what we do at sea. The global pandemic gives us a good opportunity to remind Singaporeans what the whole-of-government maritime agencies are doing behind the scenes."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.