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Making Waves: Onboard the New Ships of Marine Division
A look at the latest additions to SCDF’s Marine Division, and what it means to be a marine firefighter.

Home Team News SCDF Marine Launch 1
Fire away! PHOTO: Muhammad Izz Hirzan

As we stepped onto the bridge of the Red Sailfish, we saw a majestic trident of water shooting into the horizon. At the command console, the officers calmly dialled up the power of the ship’s water monitors, calibrating the Red Sailfish’s Dynamic Position System to maintain an even keel.

We were off the southern coast of Singapore to see the newest members of the Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF) Marine Division – the Heavy Fire Vessel Red Sailfish, the Marine Rescue Vessel Red Dolphin and the Heavy Rescue Vessel Red Manta

Home Team News SCDF Marine Launch 2
SCDF’s latest vessels (clockwise from top left): Red Dolphin, Red Manta and Red Sailfish. PHOTOS: Jade Tan
All Aboard!
As we boarded the ships, their unique features were obvious. The Red Manta features a rescue room capable of accommodating up to 300 people, a medical treatment room and a command post designed to function as a tactical headquarters during emergencies.

Home Team News SCDF Marine Launch 3
Patients can be placed on Red Manta’s convertible benches, allowing crew members to treat them quickly and efficiently. PHOTO: Jade Tan

As for the Red Sailfish, its 12 prominent water monitors (including three with foam output) are capable of 360-degree firefighting coverage at a maximum output of 240,000 litres per minute, making it the most powerful marine firefighting vessel in the world. 

Meanwhile, the Red Dolphin’s capabilities as a multi-role rescue vessel allow it to handle Chemical, Biological and Radiological (CBR) threats, with an array of specialised equipment as well as decontamination showers and airlocks. 

SCDF’s Marine Transformation
For SCDF Assistant Commissioner (AC) Derek Tan, the three ships mark the culmination of a long journey of research and transformation. The Marine Division (formerly known as Marine Command) began its journey in 2012 after SCDF took over marine firefighting and rescue duties from the Maritime and Port Authority.

Home Team News SCDF AC Derek Tan 01
Previously a Fire Investigation officer, AC Derek Tan has been with SCDF’s Marine Division since its inception in 2012. PHOTO: Jade Tan

With a rise in port activities and the growth of the cruise industry, SCDF has sought to boost its capabilities in marine firefighting and rescue. Learning from their counterparts in cities such as Tokyo and Marseilles, AC Tan’s team undertook two years of planning and design before starting construction in 2017. The result – three unique vessels that are custom-built for operations in our waters.

Home Team News SCDF Marine Launch 5
Red Manta, blue skies. PHOTO: Soo Jun Xiang

Trained to Save Lives
As a trainer for crew members of the new ships, Major (MAJ) Landon Leong explained how the innovative features of the vessels fulfil the Marine Division’s mission – from rescue rooms where those suffering from decompression sickness can be treated to the Dynamic Position System that allowed the Red Sailfish to fight fires at sea with poise and stability.

Home Team News SCDF Marine Launch 6
MAJ Leong (left) has served with SCDF’s Marine Division for six years. Here, he conducts a briefing onboard ship to Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law. PHOTO: SCDF

Yet, as MAJ Leong shares, adjusting to marine firefighting is a different challenge altogether. Although the courses for qualifying marine firefighters run up to three weeks per vessel, the unique features of the vessels means further time is needed to fully train officers.

Home Team News SCDF Marine Launch 8
WO1 Idros understands the value of having diverse skillsets onboard. “Because the SCDF Marine Division needs to be independent,” he says, “many of us are cross-trained in different lifesaving and rescue skills.” PHOTO: Jade Tan

Our Marine Firefighters
Among those who have embraced the challenges of marine firefighting is Warrant Officer 1 (WO1) Mohamad Idros Bin Abubakar. Before joining the Marine Division in 2014, WO1 Idros served at Ang Mo Kio Fire Station. With no prior marine experience, he went through a five-week Marine firefighting specialist course before completing six months of on-the-job training for basic seamanship. 

Home Team News SCDF Marine Launch 7
Bridge crew: The vessels are operated by a Navigation Officer, Helmsman, Officer-on-Watch and Fifi Operator, along with two firefighting sections. PHOTO: Soo Jun Xiang

After this, marine firefighters embark on various vessel handling courses before finally receiving the red anchor insignia on their uniform. This rigorous training stood WO1 Idros in good stead during his most memorable firefighting experience – a container ship blaze in 2018 that he and his fellow crew members fought until three in the morning. 
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Freshly commissioned, the Red Sailfish rides the waves proudly. GIF: Jade Tan and Muhammad Izz Hirzan
WO1 Idros was involved with the Red Manta’s journey from its earliest days, consulting with manufacturers on individual components and taking part in sea trials. Now an Officer-on-Watch and trainer, WO1 Idros feels that his journey has come full circle. 

“This ship almost feels like my baby,” he said. “I’ve seen it come all the way from bare metal, and I’m proud to see it commissioned.” 

SCDF Vessels Commissioning Ceremony
On 20 August 2019, SCDF welcomed three state-of-the-art heavy vessels into its fleet. The product of years of research and design, the ships serve distinct roles that comprehensively tackle marine firefighting operations. Read the speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, at the Vessels Commissioning Ceremony. 

Our Marine Firefighters in Action
- Guardians in Training: When Fire Meets Water
- Sharpening our Capabilities at Sea
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Soo Jun Xiang
  2. 03 September 2019
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