Helo Deck-Landing onboard RSS Endurance

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) Landing Ship Tank RSS Endurance (207), is the largest class of warship in the navy’s order of battle. Since its introduction into service, it has actively played it part in numerous operations, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, deploying to Aceh for humanitarian mission, as well as Operation Blue Orchid I for Maritime Security operations off the waters of Iraq. Her sister ship RSS Persistence, together with the Super Pumas from 126 Sqn of the Republic of Singapore Air Force were sent out for Search and Locate/ Rescue mission for Air Asia QZ8501 earlier this year. Both RSS Endurance and Super Puma will be on display, at the SAF 50 showcase at Vivo City this week from 12-15 Feb 2015. Endurance is the second ship to come out of yard after RSS Persistence, after 6 months upgrade of its internal systems. This will lengthen the ship’s service life by another 10-15 years for the next generation ship.

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Hosted by the Navy Information Centre Team, Head NIC SLTC Chew Chun Liang, Charlotte and Kee Onn, officers from 191 Squadron, CO Endurance, LTC Sylvan and his crew, as well as crew from RSS Endeavour, we witnessed the slipping away of Endurance from Changi Naval Base, and seen above, US LCS USS Fort Worth is berthed beside us. SLTC Chew enthusiastically briefed us on the various naval terms and traditions, and explaining as we go along the various processes. Below, we can see a seaman “flicking” the mooring ropes, a process of tidying them up into a neat row.

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An interesting brief is the “Life Raft Station Report’ where we we assigned life rafts and listened to the announcement make on the pipes on the sea conditions. This will help us locate ourselves, nearest land, the sea and current conditions should we abandon ship, and giving us information on where to swim towards. You can hear the broadcast below.

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We had Nasi Padang and visit to the ship galley, note the relatively taller pots and pans. This is to cater to rough seas, preventing hot contents from tipping over. Navy’s chef are their primary appointment, whilst secondary appointment ranges from machine gunner or medical staff. And of course, no LST visit is complete without a tour to the bridge and tank deck where they loaded up two Fast Craft Utility (FCU) which will be made available for joyrides during the SAF50 event.

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The highlight of the sail is the Deck Landing Practice carried out by the Super Puma. Now note that the aircraft bear the 125 Squadron markings, but are manned by both 126 and 125 crew, which is quite common between the sister squadrons. Our ship by now was anchored at the Raffles Reserve Anchorage, within the D4 airspace commonly used by the RSAF. Below are some reasons why the helicopter cannot be embarked at Changi Naval Base.

1) Proximity to Changi Control Zone

2) Proximity to hazards like lamp posts, buildings etc

3) Does not provide the conducive environment, e.g. head winds, to create lift for the helicopter.

An interesting point on Number 3, unlike airfields, ships are able to provide the ‘environment’ for the choppers simply by steering the ship away/towards favourable wind conditions. The helicopter units follow the Ship Helicopter Operating Limit, dictating how much headwind, crosswind, pitch and roll of the ship is allowed for the chopper to fly. As you can see below, we are actually quite near to the action just standing by the Helicopter Control Room, and also thanks to my Canon 7D MK II and 70-200mm lens. The SP did about 4 runs onto the LST, before shutting down for us to mingle on the flight deck.

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sp-9823sp-9818 sp-9829The crew of 126 Squadron later shared with us their experience on their QZ8501 search mission. The pilot described the rough sea conditions and how the air force assets worked seamlessly with the LST. His 3-hours search missions usually returned empty handed, but they are determined to push on and help our neighbours. Encik Peter, 1st on left, has over 23 years of service as an Air Crew Specialist, and said his most fulfilling mission is “whenever there is a life saved”, which totally summed up the roles and responsibilities of these SAR crew who are always on standby 24/7.
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Look who dropped by to say hi!

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PS: Exciting news! The RSN will start a naming competition for their new Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV) at the SAF50 exhibition, the last time this happened was about 11 years ago, for the naming of the Formidable-class frigates. Details will follow this week! Visit SAF50 at Vivo for more information from 12-15 Feb 9am-9pm. Admission is FREE!

 

Sincere thanks to the Republic of Singapore Navy and the Republic of Singapore Air Force for the invite!

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