We first visited the RSS Endurance slightly more than a year ago in November 2013 when Wey was 4.5 years old. That was our very first experience being on a Republic of Singapore Navy‘s warship.
It was a wonderful experience then and we were so blessed to meet the ExO on board. He was perhaps the kindest Navy ambassador we could have ever hoped to meet.
He voluntarily brought Little Wey around the ship and patiently answered every single little question the curious 4 year old had (and they were numerous! haha). We were like VIPs! Everywhere we went, we were greeted politely by other Navy officers, who probably thought we were his family!
Wey, was over the moon, being brought around by ExO Simon Tan who had stories about capturing Somalian Pirates and sinking their boats to fuel the child’s wildest imagination.
This year, in conjunction with SAF50, the RSS Endurance returns to Vivo for ship visits from 12- 15 February 2015. Tickets for the visit were made available through online balloting with limited availability for FCU rides.
We totally appreciate the efforts of the Navy for their willingness to reach out to the public and to give us a glimpse of their lives on board their mighty warships. So every time there is an opportunity to celebrate the Navy, we make it a point to bring Wey for a visit. We see it as an opportunity to show him how brave and dedicated these men and women of the Armed Forces are, in serving the nation, and the sacrifices that they make daily.
As it would have it, we managed to win the ship visit ballot (without the FCU ride this time) and we were very excited to revisit the RSS Endurance, even if it was without the Fast Craft Utility ride.
When I told Wey that we were going on the RSS Endurance on Saturday, he surprised me when he asked if he would meet ExO Simon Tan again. Acts of sincere kindness are never forgotten by children and I pray that when Wey grows up, he will pay it forward and always remember to be kind to even the littlest and the least.
We started boarding the ship at our allotted time slot and after the security checks, we were on our way up the RSS Endurance! Yay!
As usual, the crew were really friendly and went the extra mile to welcome visitors and helped to make the visit as pleasant as possible. They often even carried the little ones up the very steep steps on the Ship, much to the delight of parents and kids.
Today’s queue for the deck activities were really long and we decided to skip the photo opportunity with the chopper.
In the past, there was no ballot requirement for the FCU rides and we were very fortunate to have taken it then. The FCU ride is definitely worth a go if one gets an opportunity to. Remember to wear covered foot wear on your ship visit, no Fitflops, sandals or slippers or you will not be allowed on the FCU for safety reasons.
Although we initially did not expect to ride the FCU this time, we were really fortunate. As it would have it, the queues for the Ship Only visit was very long today and midway in the snaking queue, a Navy Officer came and invited is to take the FCU instead! Whoohoo!!! Someone was sure glad we put on covered footwear for the visit!
For us as visitors, it’s really like a cool joy ride as the FCU moves out of the protective coverage of the warship and onto the waters of the open sea. When they say Fast Craft Utility, they really mean it. We really enjoyed the cool breeze and the splashes of sea water onto our faces as the FCU increased speed and went crashing through the waters full speed ahead.
Depending on weather, the FCU may not operate if rain occurs for obvious reasons or if there are extra ferry activity on the waters. I am always amazed at the patience and professionalism of the Navy crew in directing the visitors ever so gently to wait for the ride, help dress them up in the life jackets and then onward to the FCU. So if you can, never give it a miss, it’s totally safe and awesomely fun even for adults and the elderly.
The ship visit requires a lot of climbing up and down many steep steps and it leads you through to a view of what life is like for the crew onboard the warship. We had a view of the cabins, the shower area, the officer’s dining area and even the kitchen. Expect lots of workout because you really have to do a lot of climbing and be patient because there are many elderly and young ones making their way around as best and as fast as they can manage. Also do note there are No Camera zones, so no pictures should be taken in these areas for security reasons.
Besides the ship visit and FCU ride, there is also the Engagement Zone Exhibition booths in Vivo City itself, manned by the Navy staff. Visitors can collect stamps by answering questions based on the booth displays and redeem a range of different gifts. In addition, the Navy is also giving out really cool Navy Mascot souvenirs, on an hourly basis.
The more exciting activity however is definitely the photo taking booth where children get to choose to try on different SAF uniforms and take photographs in them.
You also get to bring home the printed photographs as momentos and seriously, which mummy wouldn’t squeal in delight to see their little ones dressed up in real SAF Uniforms!
The queues are usually very long for this activity and it’s best to go early to avoid unbearable waiting. We did not take the queue this time as there was so many booths to explore.
This year, because of SAF50, the exhibition is an even bigger scale with booths split into several sections and visitors can even get to visit displays by the Air Force and the Army. Wey had a fun time looking at the real rifles and guns on display at the front lawn of Vivo City.
I had never come face to face with a real life rifle and took the opportunity to ‘touch and feel’ as well. To my surprise, it was really heavy! 4kg!! according to the Army Officer. I cannot imagine how these are carried in warfare but the Army Officer assured me that the training makes the boys tough! Wow!
SAF50 and The RSS Endurance will be at Vivo for just one more day on 15 February 2015, 9am – 9pm. Tickets are still available on site if you missed out on the earlier online ballot. Do give it a visit and even if you don’t get to board the ship this time, enjoy the fringe exhibits in Vivo itself. The kids will have fun learning about the Navy.
For us, this revisit was well worth the time and from the bottom of our hearts, Wey and I thank the Crew of RSS Endurance and the SAF for their dedication to serving and protecting our nation. Till the next time, we’ll definitely be there to meet you again at Vivo! Thank you again.
SAys! Happy Mum Audrey