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SAF officers are leading, serving and defending the nation amid the tumult of living in pandemic times

Caption: COL Sean Wat served as the Deputy Commander of the Maritime Security Task Force prior to his current appointment as Director of the Defence Policy Office

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted many aspects of Singaporeans’ lives in 2020.

This was also true for Colonel (COL) Sean Wat and his team at the Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF). His training in the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the Navy “family spirit” helped to motivate him throughout the difficult year.

The 37-year-old says: “Even as a young naval officer who is learning how to drive a ship, you learn to think two to three steps ahead, identify risks, and formulate plans should contingencies happen.” 

COL Wat continues to apply these lessons as he leads his team through the “unchartered waters” of the pandemic.

“We were clear that even in the

midst of the pandemic, our maritime security operations must continue. The

question was how to do so safely

and sustainably.”

With this mission in mind, COL Wat and his team drew up new plans and operating modalities to ensure that the MSTF could keep all its members safe and healthy while safeguarding Singapore’s maritime security 24/7.

“The Navy family rallied to adapt to the new operating modalities. Everyone took on additional duties to make it work. We understood that we were in this together and we trusted one another. The Navy family spirit really shone through.”

It was this exact Navy family spirit that attracted COL Wat to join the RSN in 2002. 


A rewarding journey

COL Wat’s career with the RSN began with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Scholarship, under which he attained multiple majors in Mathematics and Philosophy and also earned a Master of Science in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University. After his graduation in 2006, COL Wat returned to the RSN and served various shipboard tours as a junior naval officer on board the Victory-class Missile Corvette and Formidable-class Frigate.

Thus far, COL Wat is grateful that his Navy career has opened up many opportunities to grow, lead and learn new skills at each step of the way. In his early years, he was given the rare opportunity to be deployed as a Battle Watch Captain for two months in the Gulf of Aden as part of Combined Task Force 151, a multinational counter-piracy collaboration. 

Over the years, COL Wat has risen through the ranks. He was appointed as the Commanding Officer of RSS Supreme (a Formidable-class Frigate), before he went on to take up the appointment of Deputy Commander of MSTF. 

In addition to his shipboard tours, COL Wat served shore tours and took on roles such as Head of the Force Transformation Office in the Joint Plans and Transformation Department. He is currently the Director of the Defence Policy Office, where he is responsible for the formulation of Singapore’s defence policies and strategies to advance our nation’s defence diplomacy interests. 

Looking back on 2020, COL Wat says, “In an unexpected way, Covid-19 was a good reminder to us of the importance of the Navy’s mission. Even as borders all around the world were closing to contain the pandemic, we have kept Singapore’s sea lines of communication open and free, so that critical supplies can continue to reach Singapore and Singaporeans. I am proud to be able to work alongside dedicated and passionate men and women who make this their mission every day.”

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