After last year's Army Open House, it is the turn of the Navy to showcase its assets to the public this year and I was fortunate once again to be invited down for a sneak peek at its fantastic offerings. When I was told that we could get to cruise on military vessels and fire a real machine gun, I was immediately sold.
Happening this weekend, Changi Naval Base will host the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) Open House and it promises to be even bigger, better and more exciting than the last one in 2010. For starters, we were ushered into the Mission Zone Tent (air-conditioned - yay!) where we got a first-hand look at some of the operations that the Navy partake in.
Some of these operations include counter-piracy ops in the Gulf of Aden and Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief (HADR) operations which provide emergency relief and medical assistance to countries hit by natural disasters.
But what caught my eye in the Mission Tent were the extensive range of weaponry and equipment used by the Navy, including missiles, guns and unmanned vehicles like this Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) which is used to suss out underwater mines.
One of the main highlights of the Navy Open House resides outdoors and that was where we headed next. I was told that the 'Storm & Rescue' Dynamic Display will no doubt thrill and exhilarate audiences with an action-packed demonstration of the Navy’s units and capabilities and yes, I was not disappointed.
Happening twice daily, the display will see divers dropping into the sea from hovering Chinooks, where they will then speed towards the waterfront in their Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats. The action then culminates in them storming a vessel to rescue hostages.
During the demonstration, the Typhoon gun will be on attack mode as well - so cover those ears! - and a naval helicopter will also be dipping a sonar into the waters in the hunt for a submarine. And at the end of it all, audiences will be able to catch a glimpse of the newly commissioned Archer Class submarine too!
|Photo taken with LG Optimus G|
Seats at the 1,000-seater spectator stand are on a first-come first-served basis but fret not if you are unable to secure a seat, you can watch the action along the North Wharf and East Pier too.
The other big highlight of Navy Open House 2013 has got to be the Ship Visits and Sea Cruises. Something I believed would have thrilled my boys pretty much had they been present.
If you have always been itching to go onboard to see how the interior of a naval vessel looks like, you are in luck. Just look at the sheer number of ships that will be welcoming the public in the diagram below.
From the Formidable-class Frigate, Endurance-class Landing Ship Tank, Victory-class Missile Corvette, Fearless-class Patrol Vessel to the Bedok-class Mine Countermeasure Vessel, you can take your pick or choose to visit them all!
Or even better yet - as a special treat, foreign ships from Australia, India and Indonesia will be opened to the public as well. Oh, and the United States (US) Navy's first littoral combat ship USS Freedom too... definitely a once in a lifetime experience!
And if just boarding the ships are not enough, how about going on a cruise in one of them?
Visitors will get a chance to set sail on three different kinds of warships: Missile Corvette, Patrol Vessel and Mine Countermeasure Vessel. Or if smaller boats are more our kind of thing, then hop on to the Fast Craft Utility (FCU) - a sleek transport capable of rapidly moving troops or vehicles - or the LARC V vehicle, for a 'Duck Tours'-style trip.
I got the chance to hop onboard a Missile Corvette Vessel (MCV) and it was truly an eye-opener.
I got a peek into how our nation's sailors live and work... and let's just say the vessel's corridors are not designed with someone of my size in mind.
Neither are the bunks I surmise.
The upper deck was far more interesting (and less constricting) though, where I got the chance to observe how some of the shipboard operations were conducted.
It was truly an experience not to be missed... erm, if you get the chance that is. Due to the long duration (~30 mins) of the cruise and limited capacity of the vessels, not everyone will get to go for the cruise. Limited tickets are only available via balloting at the registration booths (Details at the end of this post).
For families with kids, there are two tents that are worth checking out. The 'Family and Fun' Tent (shaded yellow in the diagram below) has game stalls and video simulators, complete with roving buskers, balloons and inflatables to keep the young and old alike entertained.
But if you prefer to dabble in more adventurous activities, head on down to the Experience Zone (shaded blue in the above diagram)!
One of the must-try activities has got to be climbing up a Jacob's ladder and then fire away at targets using a paintball pellets-loaded rifle.
Kids below the height of 1.2m can skip the climbing portion and jump straight into the firing bit.
|Edmund of EdUnloaded & son firing away!|
After dispensing with enemies, you can then attempt to save a life by donning a surgeon's robe to stitch a wound in a mobile surgical theatre set-up.
Young children will no doubt derive great joy in having their photos taken in the Navy’s smart whites (No. 1 uniform) and pixelated uniforms (No. 4 uniform), which has always been a crowd favourite.
Another crowd favourite I forsee would be the submarine mock-up, where one will have the opportunity to have a feel of what the interior of a submarine is really like.
If you are seeking for more adrenaline rush, then be sure to head out of the tentage to the firing range where the thrill of rapid firing a GPMG awaits.
|Andy of SengkangBabies in action|
Our final stop of the day was the One SAF Avenue, where visitors are able to view the stunning displays of our Full Spectrum 3rd Generation Army, featuring SAF's latest gadgets and weapon systems and see how these fighting machines from the land, air and sea work together as one.
And yes, most of the vehicles allow for the public to climb onboard for a closer look.
I certainly had lots of fun at the Navy Open House and to think I didn't even manage to cover all of the zones and exhibits! But what I did mange to do was to successfully make both Ash and Ayd jealous after showing them the photos. Hmmm... looks like I just have to make another trip down with the boys this coming weekend then!
If you are intending to head down as well, here are a few important things to take note:
1. Admission to the Navy Open House is free.
2. Entry to the Navy Open House at Changi Naval Base is strictly by shuttle bus only. Free shuttle services are available from Singapore EXPO Hall 3 to the Navy Open House 2013 Fairground between 8am (18 May) or 8.30am (19 May) to 4.30pm. There will also be return shuttle services from the Navy Open House 2013 Fairground back to Singapore EXPO.
3. Security checks will be conducted before the bus is boarded at Singapore EXPO Hall 3. To speed up the process, pack light and avoid bringing sharp, dangerous looking objects. Cameras and photographic equipment are allowed.
4. Attire-wise, do wear a comfortable tee and shorts, trousers or jeans, with sturdy shoes. Skirts, dresses, heels, sandals and slippers are a no-no as some climbing may be involved if you are boarding a ship.
5. For meal options, there will be two air-conditioned food courts situated in the middle of the fairground serving both local and international fares.
6. Sea Cruise Timings: 11:30am, 1pm, 3:30pm and 5pm. Tickets are available via balloting at the information booths. Successful recipients of the tickets will be informed by SMS about an hour before the start of each cruise. *Kids below 0.9m and infants-in-arms will not be allowed on ship cruises.
7. 'Storm & Rescue' Dynamic Display Timings: 18 May 9.30am & 2.30pm | 19 May 10.30am & 2.30pm.
8. Do expect long queues at most of the experiences and ship visits as a large crowd is expected over the 2 days.
9. Lastly, the sun was merciless when I was there so remember to bring along an umbrella or cap and slap on copious amounts of sunscreen. Oh, and drink plenty of water too!
A big thanks to MINDEF for the invite! See more photos of the Naval Open House sneak preview HERE.
|Photo courtesy of HP, hpility|
Republic of Singapore Navy Open House 2013
Dates: 18 & 19 May 2013 (Sat & Sun)
Time: 9am - 7pm
Venue: Changi Naval Base (CNB)
For more information, visit the Navy Open House website at www.mindef.gov.sg/navyopenhouse/ and the Navy Open House Facebook page at www.facebook.com/singaporenavy.