Naval Diver, Naval Diving Unit, Republic of Singapore Navy, 2011
The Republic of Singapore Navy’s elite Naval Diving Unit (NDU) is a Special Forces unit and is known as one of the toughest units in the Singapore Armed Forces. The unit is tasked in commando-type warfare, close-quarter combat, jungle warfare as well as airborne and heliborne capabilities, underwater mine demolition and salvage operations.
In its early years, the Naval Diving Unit was raised to support Singapore Navy to protect the seas against mine threats. They were also tasked to conduct search and locate, search and recovery operations.
Since the September 11 terrorist attacks on America, the capability of the NDU was expanded to support the Singapore Navy and the Singapore Armed Forces, in terms of base defence and protection of ships while transiting in dangerous waters.
Regularly sent overseas for training, crack NDU divers – whose training phase can last up to one and a half years, have trained with the US Army Special Forces (Green Berets), US Navy SEALs and the British Special Air Service. In 2001, naval officer Captain Wong Foo Chan who completed the Navy SEAL course in 1999, became the first foreigner to top his class in the Green Berets course, and received a commendation medal for this achievement.
Closer home, the NDU has close and warm bilateral relations with the Indonesian Armed Forces. In 2008, it participated in the annual bilateral Ex PANDU with the TNI-AL KOPASKA. The exercise included small arms shooting competition between mixed teams of operators from both countries, sea-mine clearance operations and a combined two nautical mile open sea night swim.
Along with the SAF’s push to become a third-generation force, the NDU has also tapped on remote firing technology that enables divers to operate without being too close to the explosive area.
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)’s special operations forces, such as the Commandos and Naval Diving Unit are now part of an integrated Special Operations Task Force, set up to counter terrorist threats from land, sky and sea.