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Posted: 27 Jun 2014, 1430 hours (GMT +8)

193 SAF Personnel Honoured for Contributions to International Counter-Piracy Efforts

Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen presented the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Overseas Service Medal (OSM) to 193 servicemen at a ceremony held earlier today at Changi Naval Base. The medals were awarded in recognition of their contributions to the international counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden (GoA).

Speaking at the presentation ceremony, Dr Ng highlighted how militaries today are often called upon to undertake a wide spectrum of operations to safeguard global commons. He noted that the GoA may be 4,000 nautical miles away but is a major waterway connecting Asia and Europe, accounting for a significant portion of global trade. He said, “More than 30,000 vessels pass through those waters each year and they carry on them essential commodities – crude oil and petroleum goods, some making their way to Singapore each day. If this essential waterway is disrupted, trade of course will be affected. Livelihoods would be severely affected in Singapore and our entire region if there is no freedom and safety of navigation in these vital sea routes. This is the reason that the SAF actively participates in this international effort against the scourge of piracy in the Gulf of Aden.”

Dr Ng also commended the servicemen for their professionalism and dedication to the mission, observing that the multi-national counter-piracy efforts in the GoA have reaped tangible results and that the SAF’s contributions have been recognised by coalition partners. When asked about the contributions of the SAF task group to counter-piracy efforts, Commander Combined Maritime Forces Vice Admiral John W. Miller said, “The piracy threat off the coast of Somalia is suppressed but not eradicated, and the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) continues to be committed to the counter-piracy mission. The participation of RSS Tenacious in the counter-piracy operation was invaluable to continuing mission success. Singapore is a valued contributor to the 30-member CMF Coalition.”

The OSM recipients were part of the fifth SAF task group deployed to the GoA under the ambit of the multinational Combined Task Force 151, from March to June 2014. The task group comprised the Republic of Singapore Navy Formidable-class stealth frigate, RSS Tenacious, with a Republic of Singapore Air Force Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk naval helicopter on board. During its deployment, the task group responded to 21 calls for assistance and flew 81 helicopter sorties to provide air surveillance and ward off suspicious boats. It completed its mission with no successful pirate attacks in its area of responsibility.

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