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SAF – Sailing Beyond Horizons

saf_aaronSLTC Aaron Beng, the Commanding Officer of the RSS Intrepid, shares with us his ­fulfilling career with the Navy.

Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC) Aaron Beng signed on with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) when he was in Officer ­Cadet School in Mar 2000. His desire to be in a position that would allow him to contribute to a bigger cause led him to pursue a military career.

Beyond his good academic grades, it was his earnest desire that impressed the scholarship panel, allowing him to secure the prestigious President’s and SAF Overseas Scholarship (SAFOS) to read ­Economics and Electrical Engineering at Yale University in the US.

As the Commanding Officer of RSS Intrepid, one of the Navy’s stealth frigates, SLTC Beng is wholly responsible for the overall performance and operation of his ship. He oversees the training of his crew, equipping them with the necessary skills to perform their individual roles on board and to work together as a team to operate the ship. SLTC Beng thus ensures the operational readiness of his ship, enabling it to execute all assigned tasks and missions ­effectively when deployed at sea.

There is never a dull day in the life of a naval officer. SLTC Beng elaborates, ‘When we are deployed out at sea, my day could involve taking charge of other warships to perform a mission, flying a helicopter from my ship or conducting training with our weapons. Even while anchored in the ­harbour, I may be involved in exercise or mission planning and training which are very dynamic and intellectually challenging.’
Having to work and live together in the close confines of a ship is certainly no easy feat, especially when deployed for extended periods at sea. However, it is also this unique work environment which builds a very strong sense of closeness and ­camaraderie amongst the crew, generating the Navy family spirit that SLTC Beng is extremely proud of.

Sailing Around The World
Being in the RSN for more than 15 years has allowed SLTC Beng to experience more than his fair share of unique experiences. He fondly recalls his involvement in a joint missile firing with the Royal Thai Navy in January 2009 as an Operations Officer on board the missile corvette RSS Victory.
‘A missile live firing is a complex ­undertaking that requires coordination with many different parties,’ he explains. ‘On board, I had to constantly train and drill my crew to ensure that they were ready to execute the firing. We also had to prepare to respond to many different contingencies. After many months of intense preparation, I felt an immense sense of satisfaction when the missiles from both navies successfully hit the target.’
SLTC Beng had also recently led his crew in the participation of the US-hosted multilateral Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercise off the coast of Hawaii. SLTC Beng and his crew flew the Singapore flag high as RSS Intrepid commanded a task unit that comprises four warships from Chile, Norway and the US. The ship also successfully fired an Aster Surface-to-Air Missile.

Going Above And Beyond
‘Good training is the underlying strength of our Navy. It is our people that make the SAF and RSN an effective and capable force. As leaders in this organisation, your first priority is to groom and develop those under your charge,’ he says.

Even personally, SLTC Beng’s job has honed his own leadership, decision-making and social skills. ‘Throughout the course of your career, you will be groomed to hold an increasingly larger scope of responsibilities. The training for this comes in the form of formal ­courses as well as a culture of mentoring within the RSN.’

To SLTC Beng, a naval career is a truly rewarding and enriching experience, and he recommends it to those who have the interest and courage to step outside their comfort zone and be part of something greater.

SLTC Aaron Beng
President’s and SAF Overseas Scholarship
Age: 33
Now: Commanding Officer, RSS Intrepid (Formidable Class Frigate)
Attained: Bachelor of Science
in Economics and Electrical
Engineering, Yale University
From: Hwa Chong Institution