U.S., Singapore Senior Enlisted Leaders Tour USS Fort Worth and Singapore Navy Diving Unit
SINGAPORE -- U.S. Pacific Command Fleet Master Chief Mark Rudes visited Singapore for a Senior Enlisted Leaders (SEL) exchange with the Master Chief of the Singapore Navy Apr. 15-17.
The event was part of an SEL exchange program that began in Singapore last fall. During the visit, Rudes joined senior enlisted leaders from Commander Task Force (CTF) 73 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7 met with Military Expert (ME) 6 Phui Peng Sim and RSN senior enlisted to enhance the longstanding relationship between both navies.
“Singapore is critical to the Rebalance to the Asia Pacific. Every service member plays a role in it and we’ve accomplished every goal we’ve set in the last two years and more,” said Rudes. “Strengthening the relationship with our partners in Singapore and visiting with their [Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy] and senior enlisted leaders enhances our commitment to the region.”
The group toured the waterfront at Republic of Singapore’s Changi Naval Base (CNB) and spoke with elite members of the Singapore Naval Diving Unit in Sembawang. Sim expressed his appreciation for opportunities to foster interaction on all levels throughout the year, such as the annual bilateral naval exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Singapore.
“For many years we have had a good relationship with the U.S. as they are our strongest Navy friend,” said Sim. “We’ve had a lot more interaction recently with the U.S. senior enlisted and our relationships are growing closer.”
While at CNB, the group also visited the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) while moored there as part of her 16-month rotational deployment to 7th Fleet. During the tour, Command Senior Chief Craig Cole discussed Fort Worth’s deployment since departing her homeport in San Diego last November. Fort Worth is the second LCS to operate in the region as part of an initiative to deploy up-to-four LCSs to Singapore by 2018.
Sim was impressed with Fort Worth’s capabilities and variety of duties shared by all crew members.
“Fort Worth is very compact and the crew does much more than expected when compared to conventional surface craft,” said Sim. “Fort Worth has the right people and they are extremely capable. It’s great the see the chiefs onboard working as hard as the rest of the crew. They inspire the new generation of Sailors to work hard just like them.”
Rudes noted that Fort Worth’s capabilities make it well suited to the region.
“LCS’ littoral capability provides opportunities to access ports that our larger surface fleet cannot reach,” said Rudes. “Having a rotationally deployed platform and crew improves our interoperability with regional navies throughout Asia.”
CTF 73 Command Master Chief Richard O’Rawe and Sim attended nearly a dozen navy-to-navy interactions together to include both U.S. and Singaporean hosted events such as retirements, tours, balls and change of appointments. These interactions have fostered relationships and enhanced interoperability in both navies.
“This engagement will further strengthen our relationship with our host nation of Singapore and our neighbors that we work with on a daily basis,” said O’Rawe. “This is a big, global Navy. You have to know who you might be working with not only today, but also in the future. It’s how things get done and makes us all more effective,” said O’Rawe.
Speaking with CTF 73 Sailors after the exchange, Rudes underscored the continued importance of engagement in the Asia Pacific.
“If Sailors watch any news channel for week, they will appreciate the globalization of the Asia Pacific. I know it’s cliché to say it, but this is the tip of the spear. The Pacific is the location to build worldwide maritime security and a better world for the next generation. Whether it be CARAT events or logistics support, Singapore is critical to that. Knowing each other’s capabilities increases confidence for real world events and helps us execute joint operations in a timely manner,” said Rudes.
As 7th Fleet’s executive agent for theater security cooperation in South and Southeast Asia, CTF 73 conducts advanced planning, organizes resourc¬es and directly supports the execution of maritime exercises, such as the bilateral series Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) with Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste; the Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) with Vietnam and the multi-lateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.