Changi Naval Base
by Sitragandi Arunasalam
Located in the eastern part of Singapore, Changi Naval Base is one of two bases operated by the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), the other being Tuas Naval Base.1 Built on reclaimed land, the naval facility has a basin size of 128 ha and a total area of 86 ha encompassing various facilities for operational and training purposes.2 A berthing space of 6.2 km allows all types of fleet, including submarines and aircraft carriers, to dock at the base.3
Development of the base
The plan to build Changi Naval Base was announced in parliament by then Second Minister for Defence Lee Hsien Loong on 14 March 1990.4 The base was constructed to replace the naval base at Pulau Brani in order to accommodate the navy's expanding operational and support requirements.5
The groundbreaking ceremony for Changi Naval Base took place on 10 January 1998, officiated by then Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean. During his speech, Teo said that the location of the base at the eastern end of Singapore would enhance the protection of Singapore’s waters together with the Tuas Naval Base at the western end. The Lands and Estates Organisation (LEO) was in charge of its design and development.6
In 2001, the main operational and maintenance facilities, including high-tech features such as automated ammunition storage and environmentally friendly features like ice machines to cool down the buildings, were completed.7
Changi Naval Base was officially opened on 21 May 2004 by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. At the opening ceremony, Goh said that the base would play a critical role in regional security due to its availability for use by the navies of friendly countries as well as its strategic location along vital sea lanes connecting the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea.8 By the time of the official opening, the base has been operational for three years and received almost 100 ships from the navies of 11 countries in 2003.9
On 27 January 2006, then Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean officially opened the RSS Panglima - Changi Naval Training Centre, located to the west of the naval base. Home to the RSN’s Training Command and the Institute of Maritime Operations and Systems, the training centre is made up of the North and South plots. The North Plot consists of the training complexes of RSN, while the South Plot houses offices, classrooms, laboratories and accommodation spaces.10
Changi Naval Base has twice the land area, five times the berthing space and deeper waters than Brani Naval Base.11 One of its key features is the use of state-of-the-art technology and engineering designs to reduce manpower usage and increase operational efficiency. For instance, the Indirect Seawater Cooling System and Ice Thermal Storage System enable the base to save electricity using seawater in the air-conditioning system and ice to cool the building. Such technology was developed by the Defence Science and Technology Agency – a statutory board of the Ministry of Defence – of which the LEO had become a part of in 2000.12
Access and use by other countries
An addendum to the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding – that provided the United States (US) forces with access to Singapore’s facilities – was signed on 10 November 1998 to allow American naval carriers to berth at the base. The addendum was signed at the Pentagon by then US Defence Secretary William Cohen and then Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan.13
Other than the US, the base is also available for use by the navies of countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, China, India, Britain, New Zealand and Australia.14
Role in maritime security
On 23 January 2007, Singapore hosted the first Asean Regional Forum (ARF) Maritime Security Shore Exercise at Changi Naval Base. A total of 102 officials from 21 ARF member countries participated in the shore exercise, which also included a simulation exercise at the RSN’s Tactical Training Centre located at the naval base.15
The Information Fusion Centre (IFC) housed at the Changi Command and Control Centre next to Changi Naval Base was launched on 27 April 2009. The IFC gathers and analyses information on vessels around the world and shares it with international maritime partners such as US, Malaysia and Indonesia in order to detect threats to maritime security.16
On 25 July 2011, then Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Lui Tuck Yew officially commissioned the Port Operations Control Centre (POCC) at the Changi Command and Control Centre. The POCC ensures navigational safety and protection of the marine environment in Singapore’s waters.17 In November the same year, the Singapore Maritime Security Centre officially opened at Changi Naval Base.18
To promote the sharing of non-confidential information that can contribute to the safety of underwater navigation, the RSN developed a Submarine Safety Information Portal at the IFC in 2016 for the purpose of sharing “live” updates of ships. The data can be used in the rescue of submarines involved in accidents at sea.19
The Navy Museum, located just outside Changi Naval Base, was officially opened on 3 May 2012 by then Chief of Navy Ng Chee Peng to commemorate the RSN’s 45th anniversary. The museum showcases the history and development of the RSN through displays and exhibits.20
Sitragandi Arunasalam & Goh Lee Kim
1. Government of Singapore. (2011, June 14). Our bases. Retrieved 2016, August 10 from Ministry of Defence website: http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/mindef_websites/atozlistings/navy/assets/bases.html
2. Government of Singapore. (2005, May 17). Factsheet – Changi Naval Base opening. Retrieved 2016, August 10 from Ministry of Defence website: http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/official_releases/nr/2004/may/21may04_nr3/21may04_fs.html
3. Frances, J. (2001, March 12). Navy gets new base. Today, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Plans to replace Brani with new base at Changi. (1990, March 15). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. New Changi naval base to be twice as large as Brani’s. (1998, January 11). The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Government of Singapore. (1998, January 10). Address by RADM (NS) Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence at the ground-breaking ceremony for Changi Naval Base. Retrieved 2016, August 10 from Ministry of Defence website: http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/official_releases/sp/1998/10jan98_speech.html
7. Chan, K. M. (2001, March 11). High-tech ‘stars’ at new naval base. The Straits Times, p. 1; Nathan, D. (2001, March 12). Windmills may give new naval base a green edge. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Government of Singapore. (2004, May 21). Speech by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong at the opening ceremony of Changi Naval Base. Retrieved 2016, August 10 from Ministry of Defence website: http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/official_releases/nr/2004/may/21may04_nr3/21may04_speech.html
9. Lim, L., & Boey, D. (2004, May 22). PM opens vital link in terror fight. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Government of Singapore. (2006, January 27). Factsheet – Republic of Singapore Navy’s RSS Panglima- Changi Naval Training Base (CNTB). Retrieved 2016, August 10 from Ministry of Defence website: https://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/official_releases/nr/2006/jan/27jan06_nr2/27jan06_fs.html; Boey, D. (2006, January 28). S’pore navy has new school. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. New Changi naval base to be twice as large as Brani’s. (1998, January 11). The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Government of Singapore. (2012, October 2). Factsheet – The Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA). Retrieved 2016, August 10 from Ministry of Defence website: http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/official_releases/nr/2000/mar/29mar00_nr/29mar00_fs.html; Nathan, D. (1999, February 18). Mindef’s new weapon: Ice machines. The Straits Times, p. 23; DSTA wins energy efficient award. (2002, 25 April). The Business Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Lee, S. H. (1998, November 12). S’pore, US formalise berthing pact. The Straits Times, p. 2; S’pore signs pact for US naval ships to berth at Changi base. (1998, November 12). The Business Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Lim, L., & Boey, D. (2004, May 22). PM opens vital link in terror fight. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Urquhart, D. (2007, January 24). S’pore hosts ARF security shore exercise. The Business Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Rajan, T. (2007, March 28). 3 maritime centres to be under one roof. The Straits Times, p. 28; Chow, J. (2009, April 28). New centre to safeguard local waters. The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. New POCC opens in Changi Command and Control Centre. (2011, July 25). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from ProQuest via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Maritime Port Authority of Singapore. (2011, July 25). A Vessel Traffic Information System for the future [Press release]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
18. Tan, S. (2011, November 25). New maritime security system debuts at Exercise Northstar. Retrieved 2016, August 10 from cyberpioneer website: https://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/resourcelibrary/cyberpioneer/topics/articles/news/2011/nov/25nov11_news.html
19. Boey, D. (2016, June 30). Singapore navy suggests code of conduct for submarines. The Straits Times. Retrieved from ProQuest via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
20. Tan, G. W. (2012, May 5). RSN marks 45th anniversary. Retrieved 2016, August 10 from cyberpioneer website: https://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/resourcelibrary/cyberpioneer/topics/articles/news/2012/may/04may12_news.print.img.html; Government of Singapore. (2015, December 01). About the navy museum. Retrieved 2016, August 10 from Ministry of Defence website: https://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/mindef_websites/atozlistings/navymuseum/home.html
The information in this article is valid as at 13 August 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
Navy-yards and naval stations--Singapore
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Science and technology>>Engineering>>Military engineering
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