Singapore Changi naval base
Cooperation between the United States and Singapore on defense and security matters has advanced significantly. The advances in military cooperation are highlighted by the announcement that the United States will station four US Navy Littoral Combat Ships in Singapore starting in 2012. This will give the US Navy a front row seat in the simmering dispute over the South China Sea, which China claims as territorial waters from which foreign warships may be excluded.
Speaking to the International Institute for Security Studies Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 04, 2011, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said "Maritime security remains an issue of particular importance for the region, with questions about territorial claims and the appropriate use of the maritime domain presenting on-going challenges to regional stability and prosperity. The U.S. position on maritime security remains clear: we have a national interest in freedom of navigation; in unimpeded economic development and commerce; and in respect for international law. We also believe that customary international law, as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, provides clear guidance on the appropriate use of the maritime domain, and rights of access to it.... In Singapore, we are strengthening our bi-lateral defense relationship within the context of the Strategic Framework Agreement and pursuing more operational engagement – most notably, by deploying U.S. Littoral Combat Ships to Singapore. We are examining other ways to increase opportunities for our two militaries to train and operate together..."
Singapore's Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen said: "The US's strong presence and continued engagement in this area has been, and will continue to be a critical force of stability and progress for this region.... In that spirit, we are open to his proposal for forward deployment of the littoral combat ships in this area, so that it allows them to achieve that purpose of having a strong presence, a continued presence in the Asia Pacific region".
As the economic stature of the Asian Pacific region keepsrising and American interests there continue to grow, the region has come to occupy a highly prominent spot in America's global strategy. That strategy continues to shift its emphasis to Asia as well. Building on the "new Pacific partnership" first proposed by Bush in 1989, America put forward in November 1991 the concept of a Pacific community, a fan-shaped structure based on North America. Its backbone is the U.S.-Japanese alliance. Tothe north is the alliance between the U.S. and South Korea, to the south is ASEAN, and further south isAustralia. Linking them together into a network is the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation [APEC].
Militarily, America has long-standing ties with the Philippines and Thailand. After the U.S.-Philippine treaty on military bases expired, the US stepped up military cooperation with Singapore and explored the possibility of using military facilities in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei "on a commercial basis."
There is NO military "base" but rather a military "place" in Singapore. Sembawang Wharves is where most U.S. vessels port call Singapore. US Navy ships have been docking in Singapore since the 1960s for maintenance, repairs, supplies, and crew rest and recreation. Under the terms of the 1990 agreement permitting US use of facilities in Singapore, there was a modest increase in US use of Singapore's ship maintenance and repair facilities.
Vice President Quayle and Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew signed a memorandum of understanding in Tokyo on 13 November 1990, permitting US use of facilities in Singapore. Singapore's Paya Lebar airfield is used for short-term rotations by USAF aircraft. The US is not constructing a base in Singapore; rather, US forces make use of existing Singaporean facilities at Sembawang Port. This is one form of access which represents a new approach to maintaining US presence in the region. This new approach will consist of a network of bilateral arrangements that facilitate training, exercises and interoperability which, in lieu of permanent bases, will permit the US to remain engaged and forward deployed in Southeast Asia.
Singapore hosts the 7th Fleet Logistics Force commander and his staff, hundreds of ship visits, and constructed a new pier at Changi which will be able to accommodate US aircraft carriers. The US Navy's presence in this world-class port, while small, adds yet another facet to the country s diversity. Only about 100 Sailors (officer and enlisted) and 50 Navy civilians work in seven activities on the island of Singapore. However, these commands provide important support for the 7th Fleet.
The March 2001 completion of the deep-draft pier at Changi Naval Base, constructed entirely at Singapore's expense, will support continued US presence in the region for many years to come. USS Kitty Hawk was the first aircraft carrier to berth pierside at Changi.
Commander, Logistics Group, Western Pacific (COMLOG WESTPAC) was established in Singapore in July 1992. COMLOG WESTPAC is the US Seventh Fleet's principal logistics agent and bilateral exercise coordinator for Southeast Asia. As logistics agent for Seventh Fleet, COMLOG WESTPAC plans the resupply of food, ordnance, fuel and repair parts for US Navy ships deployed to the Seventh Fleet Area of Operations which includes over 51 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian Oceans--stretching from mid-Pacific to the east coast of Africa, and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south. COMLOG WESTPAC also plans and manages the funding for ship repairs at US facilities in Yokosuka, Japan, and Guam, as well as at commercial repair facilities in Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia.
In its capacity as the bilateral exercise coordinator for Southeast Asia, COMLOG WESTPAC conducts advance planning, facilitates communication with host nations, promotes military to military relations, organizes resources, and directly supports the execution of training exercises with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore. COMLOG WESTPAC further serves to enhance cooperative engagement initiatives in the region.
COMLOG WESTPAC is located inside the PSA Sembawang Terminal and has approximately 60 military and five civilians assigned. PSA Sembawang houses COMLOG WESTPAC as well as Navy Regional Contracting Center, Singapore and the USAF 497th Combat Training Squadron. The Air Force runs an Armed Forces Community Center called the Eagle Club. Most amenities found at stateside Open Messes are available here. As an Armed Forces Community Center, rather than an Air Force open mess, personnel from the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Navy, and the New Zealand Defense Unit also enjoy it. The Eagle Club enjoys a full service lounge, the First Street Café restaurant (with western menu), slot machines, University of Maryland computer lab/internet café, and multipurpose room. The Sembawang Military Community receives four channels from the Armed Forces Radio & Television Service (AFRTS) satellite. These channels are provided to the housing area via coaxial cable. AFN Pacific and AFN Atlantic offer programming that includes sitcoms, dramas, sports and news. New-Sports shows primarily news and live or video delayed sporting events. Spectrum shows a variety of children's programming, movies and educational programming.
Singapore, located at the tip of the Malay Peninsula and strategically situated in the Straits of Malacca has been a stopping point for explorers and traders for hundreds of years. It lies at what can best be described as the crossroads between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. A location which has only added to the Republic of Singapore s unique cultural diversity. The US Navy s presence in this world-class port, while small, adds yet another facet to the country s diversity. Only about 100 Sailors (officer and enlisted) and 50 Navy civilians work in seven activities on the island of Singapore. However, these commands provide important support for the 7th Fleet.
Singapore is approximately sixty miles north of the Equator and is hot and humid year-round. The average maximum temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit at 1330 and the average minimum is 70 degrees Fahrenheit at 0300. Annual rainfall is 94 inches, which may fall in light showers, but more often comes in torrential downpours. There is no cool season. The sale or importation of chewing gum is prohibited. Unlawfully touching any person is "Outraging Modesty" and is a serious offense in Singapore. It is also an offense to carry any form of weapon. Pocketknives with a blade length exceeding 2 inches are considered to be weapons. Most Americans don't have any problems with these laws.
On 15 January 1998 Singapore announced it will build a new harbor to accommodate US aircraft carriers and other warships. Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Tony Tan made the announcement during a joint press conference at the Ministry of Defense with US Defense Secretary Cohen. Tan said the plan will double the size of the planned Changi naval base, with docking space being built to US specifications. The new base was scheduled to open in two years.
Well before the US entered basing negotiations with the Philippines in the early 1990s, Singapore offered to conclude an access agreement that would help disperse the US presence and spread the political responsibility of hosting US forces. The 1990 Access Memorandum of Understanding has been instrumental in sustaining American post-bases presence in Southeast Asia. Although fewer than 200 US personnel are permanently assigned to Singapore, a naval logistics unit -- Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific -- was relocated from Subic Bay at the time of the US military withdrawal from the Philippines assists in fleet support and coordinates bilateral naval exercises in Southeast Asia.
US access to the new naval base will be included in an amendment to the current memorandum of understanding initiated in July 1992. The memorandum originally gave US forces a place to go after they left Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air Base in the Philippines. More than 100 US Navy ships call at Singapore yearly, and US fighter aircraft regularly deploy there. Singapore was a transit point for US ships, troops and aircraft during the Persian Gulf War. Its Paya Lebar Air Base supported US airlift operations to Somalia.
Singapore has consistently supported a strong US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. In 1990, the US and Singapore signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which allows the US access to Singapore facilities at Paya Lebar Airport and the Sembawang port. Singapore and US forces also train and exercise together. For example, Singapore Air Force F-16 crews train at Luke Air Force Base AZ, then participate in joint exercises with the US counterparts. Both its naval and air forces regularly carry out combined exercises under the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training program with a US Navy task group. And the Singapore army has conducted exercises with US Army Pacific units since 1981.
Singapore is located at narrow point of Strait of Malacca off southern tip of Malay Peninsula; connected with Malaysia by causeway. The total land area is about 636 square kilometers, consisting of one main island and 58 islets. The main island is 42 kilometers long and 23 kilometers wide, with coastline of 138 kilometers.
Situated at the crossroads of international shipping and air routes, Singapore is a center for transportation and communication in Southeast Asia. Singapore is a regional aviation hub served by 64 international airlines. Changi International Airport, opened in 1980, is being expanded. Singapore's strategic location on major sea lanes has given the country an economic importance in Southeast Asia disproportionate to its small size. Singapore's total trade in 1997 amounted to $382 billion, nearly three times its GDP. Singapore imported $196 billion and exported $185 billion worth of merchandise. Reexports accounted for 42% of Singapore's total exports in 1997.
Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles arrived in Singapore in 1819 as an agent of the British East India Company. In 1824, the British purchased Singapore Island, and by 1825, the city of Singapore had become a major port, with trade exceeding that of Malaya's Malacca and Penang combined. In 1921, the British constructed a naval base, which was soon supplemented by an air base. But the Japanese captured the island in February 1942, and it remained under their control until September 1945, when it was recaptured by the British. After a period of friction between Singapore and the central government in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore separated from Malaysia on August 9, 1965, and became an independent republic.
Singapore relies primarily on its own defense forces, which are continuously being modernized. Approximately 49% of government operating expenditures are devoted to the defense budget. The state-owned Singapore Shipbuilding and Engineering Company produces naval vessels. In 1989 Singapore Shipbuilding and Engineering constructed the first of five corvettes for the Singapore navy.
The Republic of Singapore is an important and very enjoyable port of call for the Seventh Fleet. The Government and the people of Singapore have extended their warm welcome and friendship to the officers and enlisted personnel of the US Navy. It is important that the hospitality of the Singaporeans not be abused.
The people of the Republic of Singapore are conservative in their dress and in their demeanor. They are alienated by extreme dress styles and consider unkempt personal appearance to be offensive. US military personnel so groomed or attired can expect to encounter a decided lack of consideration from Singaporeans, if not hostility. Liberty parties in extreme modes of dress could erode the US Navy's welcome in Singapore and jeopardize Singapore as a Seventh Fleet port of call. Individually and collectively, Navy personnel of the Seventh Fleet serve as representatives of the United States. The Singaporeans judge our Navy and, in many respects, our country by the manner in which we conduct ourselves while we are their guests.
Singapore Island is situated off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula from which it is separated by the narrow Johore Straits, crossed by a rail and road causeway. The island is 26 miles from east to west and 14 miles from north to south. The highest point is 581 feet about sea level. It is 80 miles north of the equator.
The climate is hot and very humid. The average maximum temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit at 1330H and the average minimum is 70 degrees Fahrenheit at 0300H. The annual rainfall is 94 inches, which may fall in light showers, but more often comes in torrential downpours. There is no cool season. The winds blow from the north or northeast from October to April and from the southwest from May to September. The ever-present humidity has an adverse effect on such things as camera lenses, books, records, and pictures.
Singapore is a multiracial and multicultural society of more than two and a half million people. Religious denominations include Buddhists, Confucianists, Hindus, Muslims, Parsees, Sikhs, Taoists, Zaroastrians, Jews, and Christians. The Chinese comprise seventy-seven percent of the total population. To Singapore have come Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochew, Hainanese and others and, although many have their own dialects and customs, the Chinese National language of Mandarin is one of the four official languages. The Chinese are to be found in every walk of life and are the most influential population group on the island. The educated Chinese, like the Indian, is multi-lingual. The remaining two- percent of the population includes Europeans and Eurasians as well as a sprinkling of Arabs, Jews, Filipinos, and Americans.
Singapore is an accompanied tour area with concurrent travel of dependents authorized. On- base housing is authorized for accompanied personnel at GS-7 and above. Current waiting period is twelve to twenty-four months. Off-base housing is available and is usually larger than that found in Japan. Rent for one year is paid in advance. The initial cost to move in varies from $300 to $600 (US ) for a Stamp fee.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|