Growing up, Military Expert 5 (ME5) Gerald Qiu had never imagined himself joining the military. While pursuing Mechanical Engineering at the National University of Singapore (NUS), he attended a Navy recruitment talk which sparked his interest to become a Naval Warfare System Engineer. In particular, it was the personal anecdote of the senior officer who shared about his multi-faceted career with the Navy as an Engineer that inspired him.
For CPT Lee, the decision to join the Navy came only after having worked as an auditor for a year. "I was doing fine at work but always felt that I should make use of my time to do something less conventional while I was still young. Joining the Navy then came to mind," she shares.
Supporting the Navy
Today, ME5 Qiu and CPT Lee play largely different roles in the Navy. ME5 Qiu serves as a section head in the logistics organisation planning section, where he is constantly on the lookout for changes and opportunities in the environment to strengthen the naval logistics organisation. "I am part of a team who come together to chart the future of naval logistics and engineering. We ensure that we are always ready and prepared for future challenges and requirements," ME5 Qiu shares. Today, ME5 Qiu plays an important role in the future development of the organisation.
His current appointment follows after three other appointments he has had over the span of a decade in the Navy. He began his journey as a staff officer in Changi Naval Base where he was responsible to maintain the operational level of critical naval systems for the Frigates and the Landing Ships Tank. Thereafter, he served as Senior Marine Engineer on board RSS Endurance (Landing Ship Tank). During this time, ME5 Qiu was directly responsible to the Commanding Officer for the ship's marine system health and readiness. In addition, he oversaw the operational safety, as well as the ship crew's competency in fire-fighting and damage control for the ship. His third and current tour was in logistics planning section where he influences the future development of the organisation.
As for CPT Lee, she contributes to the Navy as an Assistant Operations Officer on board Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV) Sovereignty, the second LMV to be launched. CPT Lee relishes this opportunity to serve as the pioneer crew. "The journey towards operationalising the ship has not been easy, but I've learned so much in the process and I am looking forward to the day that LMV Sovereignty is ready to set sail," she shares. Come 2020, eight LMVs will replace our Patrol Vessels which have been in service for 20 years. Having served on board the Patrol Vessel prior to her current appointment, CPT Lee is impressed with the advancement in technology and operations that the new platform will provide.
ME5 Gerald Qiu Zhixian
Head Logistics Organisation Planning Section, OLG-NLD
Fulfilment at Work
ME5 Qiu derives fulfilment from "being able to apply skills and knowledge to make a difference, and being able to influence outcomes for the advancement of the Navy". He elaborates with an example – one in which he conducted a propulsion shaft deflection test together with engineers from the yard and base. "At the end of the day, we made improvements to the ship's fuel efficiencies, achieving the desired speed at different engine steps and reducing the wear and tear of the shaft bearings," ME5 Qiu explains. "I was extremely delighted with the outcome."
On the other hand, CPT Lee sees fulfilment in relating her efforts to the defence of Singapore. "When I was serving on board the patrol vessel previously, the sailing routine was hectic. However, knowing that my efforts go towards protecting my loved ones makes up for my sacrifices," she shares humbly.
She lets us in on another example from which she drew fulfilment and strength. She tells us, "I remember my Midshipmen Sea Training Deployment quite vividly. The six weeks spent on board RSS Endurance (Landing Ship Tank) was tough and was a cycle of lessons, trainings and tests. However, tough times are really when you build the strongest bonds among your crew members.
CPT Lee Jia Pei
Assistant Operations Officer (AOPS), LMV Sovereignty
Keeping Up the Navy Spirit
In order for our Navy to advance, officers must be guided by strong principles. ME5 Qiu and CPT Lee share some of the principles that have steered them through their time in the Navy. For ME5 Qiu, leading by example and caring for his men are two must-dos in his vocation. He elaborates, "It is important to lead by example. If I don't walk the talk, I will not be able to earn my men's respect and get anything done. I also have to express care beyond ‘giving less work' or ‘allowing more rest times'. Caring for them is ensuring that they receive sufficient training to be competent, that their working condition is safe, that their discipline carries them through their work, and that they can return home safely to their loved ones at the end of the day."
Clearly, the extent of care portrayed by Navy officers keeps the family spirit alive in the organisation. "The ship is like our second home and our crew is our second family," shares CPT Lee. "Which other jobs will allow you to work, eat, play and even sleep in the same space as your colleagues?" For her, her two most important guiding principles in the Navy are resilience and determination. She tells us, "The journey will not be easy. Training is tough and standards are demanding. However, these are only so because people's lives are in your hands."
She adds on a special note to women thinking of joining her in the Navy, concluding candidly, "You don't have to spend money on dresses, heels and stress over what to wear every day! Jokes aside, a Navy career will be challenging yet rewarding. The work is dynamic and one can certainly look forward to varied experiences every day."