Changi Naval Base (CNB) is the prime naval base for the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN). The base occupies about 1.28km² of land in Changi East.
It was opened in May 2004 to replace the Brani naval base, built in the 1970s. RSN also operates Tuas naval base, located in western Singapore.
Changi and Tuas naval bases together enhance the operational ability and efficiency of the RSN. The Changi base protects the sea line of communications and defends the country against sea-borne threats in littoral waters of the Singapore Strait. CNB is a state-of-the-art facility and has been built to meet the growing operational needs of the naval forces.
Location and layout of RSN’s Changi naval base
Singapore is strategically situated on the major international sea routes – the Straits of Singapore and Malacca – and connects the Pacific and Indian Oceans making it economically important.
The country acts as the centre for international communications, transportations and trade to southeast Asia. It works with neighbouring littoral states for safety, stability, regional peace and navigational freedom.
The CNB is situated about 3.5km from the Changi International Airport and about 1.5km from Changi Air Base East. The naval base, therefore, plays a prominent role in the protection of naval vessels, repair facilities, supplies, administration and logistics support.
History of Singapore’s bases
The Republic of Singapore Navy, earlier known as Singapore Naval Volunteer Force, has been growing significantly since the change of its ensign in May 1967.
It had only three vessels inherited from the Royal Navy. The RSN was formed in April 1975, as part of three component forces (army and air force being the other two) of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
Brani naval base, to the east, was the main base of the RSN. The second base, Tuas naval base, was opened in 1994 to accommodate the increasing fleet size and capabilities of the naval forces.
A new naval base in Changi East was planned in 1990 to replace the Brani naval base for the growing needs of the RSN.
Construction of the Republic of Singapore Navy’s CNB
About 86ha land was reclaimed at the site from 1992 to 1997. RSN commenced construction of the base in 1998 with cooperation from the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA).
It has buildings for fleet command, the Changi maintenance base and a tactical training centre. The nine-storey fleet command building serves as headquarters for the first and third Flotilla. It has administrative offices and video conferencing facilities.
The base incorporates a high level of automation, innovative designs and technologies. The deep draft pier supporting the 6.2km of berthing space and with a basin size of 128ha can accommodate even the largest aircraft carriers.
A partial depth breakwater supports the berthed ships. The south breakwater pier has mechanical utilities chambers to supply fuel, fresh supplies, compressed air, waste removal and perform other services to the vessels.
Operations and forces / units involved with the Changi East base
The CNB has a Maritime Security Task Force, Naval Diving Unit, Naval Logistics Command and Training Command. It is home to the submarine squadron, amphibious transport docks, missile corvettes, landing ship tanks and mine counter measure vessels.
By January 2009, six stealth frigates were in service under the Formidable-Class Frigate Squadron at the CNB. The modern facilities allow handling of all kinds of foreign naval vessels.
It has hosted the vessels from the US, France, UK, Australia, China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea and Pakistan. The base supported humanitarian operations during the Tsunami crisis in Asia in 2005.
The USS Kitty Hawk was the first vessel to be berthed at the piers of the CNB in March 2001. The US Navy utilises the Changi naval base for re-supply and logistics. In return, Singapore gets training support from the US. The base has a repair compound and syncro-lift for lifting ships as large as Missile Corvette Vessels.
Technology and other facilities and services of the Changi naval base
The base has the latest information management technologies, such as a fibre optic network for broadband. It also incorporates several space, energy and cost-saving technology systems, such as the Thermal Ice Storage System for energy efficient cooling and Indirect Seawater Cooling System for air conditioning. It saves about 35,000m³ of potable water every year.
The naval warehouse, with ship parts and an underground ammunition depot, is fully automated to ease the logistics. Only nine employees from ST Engineering operate the machines for loading-unloading and storage.
The base also has various operational and support units. Small wind turbines and a solar panel roof generate electricity for breakwaters and base lighting purposes.
A new facility for training of navy personnel, called the RSS Panglima-Changi naval training base was opened at the base in January 2006. The RSN’s Training Command (TRACOM) and the naval museum were relocated to the CNB from Sembawang Camp. TRACOM has three navy schools – the Institute of Naval Technology and Operations, the Institute of Maritime Warfare and the Institute of Marine Systems.
The two-storey Changi Command and Control (C2) Centre building was opened at the base in 2009. It is home to the Singapore Maritime Security Centre (SMSC), Multinational Operations and Exercise Centre (MOEC) and the Information Fusion Centre (IFC). It serves the international and national maritime agencies to increase the security of Singapore. The base also has a sports complex.