Singapore hosts first U.S. carrier at new Changi Naval Base Pier

Singapore hosts first U.S. carrier at new Changi Naval Base Pier

Burgess, Richard R

THE SEA SERVICES

The ability of the U.S. Navy to support its forces in the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean has been significantly strengthened with the dedication in Singapore of a new pier capable of mooring the Navy’s largest aircraft carriers.

The conventionally powered aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, forwarddeployed to the U.S. Seventh Fleet, arrived at Changi Naval Base on 22 March and tied up at the new pier. U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark and his Singaporean counterpart, Chief of Navy Rear Adm. Lui Tuck Yew, were among those commenting on what many described as “a new era” in U.S.-Singapore relations.

“Singapore and the United States have a common set of beliefs with regards to global security,” Clark said in a speech aimed at the American business community in Singapore reported in the Singapore Straits Times. “The Pacific Rim is a priority for the United States. If that were not so, I wouldn’t be here,” Clark said at a breakfast meeting cosponsored by the Singapore Council of the U.S. Navy League and the Singapore chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce.

The United States and Singapore reached agreement in November 1998 to build the pier, which is on 212 acres of land reclaimed from the sea. Until now, carriers and large amphibious assault ships had to moor several miles offshore.

The new pier is one of only two in Southeast Asia capable of berthing a carrier-the other is at Port Klang in Malaysia. Singapore has taken on increasing importance in U.S. naval forward-deployed operations since the 1992 closure of the former U.S. naval base at Subic Bay in the Philippines.

Two U.S. Navy commands have been established in Singapore to support operations of the U.S. Fifth and Seventh Fleets: (a) Logistics Group, Western Pacific, which coordinates repairs and the resupply of ships with food, fuel, and spare parts; and (b) The U.S. Naval Regional Contracting Center, which procures supplies for ships and aircraft passing through the region.

Singapore’s position at the mouth of the Malacca Strait makes it particularly attractive as a logistics hub for the U.S. Navy’s operations in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. U.S. defense officials say that the availability of the Changi pier will enhance regional stability, which has been diminished in recent years by political unrest in Indonesia, sovereignty disputes over the Spratly Islands, new tensions between China and Taiwan, and an increase in the number of piracy incidents in the Malacca Strait.

Singaporean officials have been equally forthright in asserting that a strong U.S. naval presence in the region contributes to regional stability and the protection of the area’s sea lanes of communication. Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan reaffirmed Singapore’s intent to continue the naval cooperation between the two countries when he met earlier this year, in Germany, with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, according to the Singapore Strait Times.

By RICHARD R. BURGESS

Managing Editor

Copyright Navy League of the United States May 2001

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