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RSS Panglima - Inshore Patrol Boat

The name "RSS Panglima" may be familiar with those who have been to RSS Panglima-Changi Naval Training Base, the home of the RSN's Training Command. Not many may know that prior to its rebirth as a training institue, the Panglima had a long and distinguished history as part of Singapore's maritime defence.

"Panglima" originated as a Malay word for an ancient warrior title and this name was given to several naval vessels that served in Singapore since the 1930s. The first Panglima was a 75-foot motor launch built in 1937 in Singapore. It was used for the training of naval officers and ratings in the Malayan Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (MRNVR). During World War II, the ship was involved in the evacuation of British and Australian troops from Johore, escort duties and patrol duties. However, in February 1942, while evacuating troops from Singapore, it was bombed and sunk.

The Panglima was revived in 1944 when a 90-foot Motor Fishing Vessel was built in England for the Royal Navy. When World War II came to an end, this ship was transferred over to the command of the re-established MRNVR as a replacement for the earlier vessel. However, being made of wood, it proved to be unsuitable for use in the tropical waters of Singapore. The high salinity and humidity of the Singapore waters meant that the wooden hull would begin deteriorating faster than it would in colder climates.

On 14 January 1956, the third Panglima was commissioned by Lady Black, wife of the then British Governor of Singapore. It was a much better equipped ship than the previous two vessels, being fitted with an assortment of modern equipment such as Sonar and Radar. With a maximum speed of 15 knots and a range of 3000 miles, it became an essential member of the MRNVR in its fight against piracy and illegal smuggling.

The history of the Panglima continued into the merger of Singapore into Malaysia in 1963. The ship was absorbed into the Malaysian Navy, as KD Panglima (KD stands for Kapal Diraja or His Majesty's Ship). After Singapore's independence in 1965, the Panglima became one of the three pioneer ships in the newly formed Singapore Naval Volunteer Force. The other two ships were the RSS Singapura and RSS Bedok. Together with the RSS Bedok (RSS Singapura served as the headquarters of the SMC), the RSS Panglima provided the only maritime defences for Singapore during the early years of her independence.

After serving loyally for the next 36 years, the RSS Panglima was finally retired from active service. In a decommissioning parade held on 09 July 1991 at Brani Naval Base, the flags of the ship were lowered for the last time and handed over to then Chief of Navy, CDRE Teo Chee Hean. This signalled the end of active service of the ship in the Republic of Singapore Navy.

Although the RSS Panglima is no longer in service as a seagoing vessel, it continues to be associated with the RSN in another form. Shortly after its decommissioning, the RSS Panglima name was added to the School of Naval Training to become the RSS Panglima-School of Naval Training. In January 2006, Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean officially opened the RSS Panglima-Changi Naval Training Base. As the home of the RSN's Training Command (TRACOM), it is responsible for all aspects of individual training in the RSN. This facility contains a host of high tech training platforms to enable the RSN to reach even greater heights.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:28:05 ZULU