Saturday 21 March 2015

Singapore Navy woman captain

(Lim Huay Wen image from

Today's Borneo Post has just published a light interview with commanding officer Lim Huay Wen. This week she met naval leaders from other countries at the military-industrial showcase event LIMA'15, Malaysia's Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition.

At a time when seagoing women high-flyers are still unusual in the naval world, Captain Lim was saying what many women in command of ships have been stressing for over four decades now: women's competence to command ships is not remarkable.
In her very positive and tactful account Captain Lim didn't go on to say, as women pioneers often do, that although women's competence may be equal (or even superior) to that of men, their opportunities to exercise their competence are not yet equal enough.
Women ashore, however, are involved at the highest levels of maritime security, including anti-piracy.

In talking to women maritime pioneers I've repeatedly found that they feel the press make much - too much - of women who've broken through barriers, or tried to. And too often at sea women are taken as signs of what other women are and could become (even though Lim's male counterparts would not be seen as symptomatic of all men, of course.)
It puts pressure on women to be unnaturally exemplary.

'Commanding officer Lim raises women’s pride at sea:
LANGKAWI: Lt. Col. Lim Huay Wen is no ordinary female officer in the Singaporean Navy. She is, in fact, the commanding officer of one of the republic’s frigate vessels.
At 35, Lim, who was appointed as the commanding officer of the Republic of Singapore Ship (RSS) Stalwart in January this year, is among the few women who had reached such heights in their naval career.“Definitely I’m not the first as there had been a few (female officers) before me who had commanded a navy ship,” she said when met during the opening ceremony of a Multinational Maritime Security Exercise 2015, in conjunction with the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition 2015 (LIMA’15) here.

Lim was easily distinguished at the event as the hall for the ceremony was filled mostly by male officers but she apparently had no qualms about the situation.“It is not about gender. It’s all about capabilities,” she said.
Lim said she joined the Singapore Navy in 1999 after completing her national service and her family had been supportive of her decision.“As a woman, I want to do my part by joining the navy and my parents were very supportive of my decision,” she said.From then on she never looked back and rose up the ranks which offered her the opportunity to travel and experience the world beyond her homeland.
Since joining the navy, her tour of duty included a counter-piracy mission in the Gulf of Eden and a military exercise in Hawaii.“As a commanding officer, this (the maritime security exercise in Langkawi) is my first deployment and I am looking forward to more deployments in the future,” she said.


Lim said her longest mission on a ship had been for 103 days when she was in the Gulf of Eden.
“Life on a ship is no different whether you are a male or female (officer). It’s (the atmosphere was) a tight knit situation and we are just like in a family with teamwork and working together to achieve a common goal,” she said. While it had been a smooth sailing career for her for the last 16 years, she said that she had learnt a lot along the way and her trip to Langkawi was no exception.

“LIMA’15 was my first experience to meet other navies from other countries. Meeting them really makes me think that life in the navy is very valuable.
“Whether you are from Singapore, Malaysia, United States or India (some of the countries taking part in the exercise), we are all the same. We as seafarers share the same understanding,” she said.


Lim, who had a crew of more than 75 personnel under her command in RSS Stalwart, said opportunities were aplenty for women to succeed in the naval career.
She said her career had so far taught her that there was no gender competition in the navy and everyone was judged based on merits.
“As long as you are ready to do the job, the chance to command a ship would be there,” she said.

She said that those who joined the navy were those who wanted to do their part for their love of their country.
“If you are adventurous and you want to get a taste of the world, this (the navy) is a place where you can grow up and contribute to society,” she added as an advice to other young ladies aspiring to follow her footsteps. — Bernama'

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