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Defenders of the sea

Photo Credit to MINDEF/SAF – SLTC Siswi Herlini

Since the early years of Singapore, our island has depended heavily on the safe and open maritime trade routes around its waters to fuel its economic prosperity. As our maritime nation’s first line of defence, the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) has been entrusted with the vital role of protecting our economic lifeline while contributing to regional peace and security.

“Being defenders of the seas, I feel that our impact goes beyond what is seen in the public. Many of us are lulled into a sense of security that Singapore is very safe, but the truth is far

from that. I am proud that I am contributing to the seaward defence of Singapore, together with other national agencies,” says Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC) Siswi Herlini, the Commanding Officer (CO) of RSS Endurance (an Endurance-class Landing Ship Tank).

As the CO, SLTC Herlini is not only responsible for the operational readiness of the ship. She also takes charge of her crew’s morale, discipline and, very importantly, professional development.


Getting on board

SLTC Herlini has been fascinated by the military profession since she was a junior college student, especially when her male classmates discussed Basic Military Training. Initially, she thought that the military profession was only for men until she saw a poster of women in military uniform during a career fair in school. It was at that moment that she decided to join the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

“I did not want to join an organisation that cared only about profit-making. An eight-to-five job did not appeal to me too,” recalls SLTC Herlini, who is currently enjoying the dynamic and exciting work opportunities offered in the RSN.

After she was awarded the SAF Merit Scholarship in 2003, she went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley in 2006 and a master’s in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University in 2007.


Continuous learning

Being a mother of two has not stopped SLTC Herlini from continuing to take on various job challenges. Over the course of her RSN career, she has undertaken different roles such as the CO of RSS Resilience (a Fearless-class Patrol Vessel) and the Head of the RSN Strategy Office at the Headquarters. 

“I still love my job in the RSN even after 13 years — it’s meaningful work,” she shares.

Other than the regular competency trainings that the officers go through, SLTC Herlini also had the opportunity to attend the Command and Staff College in Australia. “Not only did I develop professionally, I also learnt how different cultures view the same thing from different perspectives. I realised the need to be sensitive while embracing diversity.”

“Being part of the RSN is more than just a career — it’s a calling,” she adds. “The journey is not easy but many of us remain because of the conviction that what we are doing, and what we are a part of, are larger than ourselves. We need to have our hearts in the right place to enjoy this tough but satisfying profession.”