Memories of Singapore Pioneer Mariners Project


Cheng Huang Leng
- Self Appointed “Historian”! Memories of Singapore Pioneer Mariners Project
- Head, Marine Engineering Department from 1978 to 1981, Singapore Polytechnic

If you have collected your CPF already, you are likely to be one of the trailblazers who made Singapore’s marine industry what it is today! For example, in 1961, Mr Kenneth Kee Ah Bah was among the first batch of students to enrol for the Technician Diploma in Marine Engineering. He would be among the first to go to sea. Mr Tan Cheng Hui and I were the first Singaporeans (we joined the same day) with university degrees to teach at the Singapore Polytechnic Marine Engineering Division.

Thus in terms of marine related professions, we have amongst us (including ladies), we have many firsts – to enter the 5-year apprenticeship scheme, to sail as Chief Engineer or Master, the first Engine Driver, the first harbour pilot, the first local ship owner, the first entrepreneur to set up a marine equipment repair company, the first to provide a bunkering service, to be the first local MD of a foreign owned subsidiary, etc, etc.

In terms of marine related work, we have amongst us many who were directly involved in the construction of the first Singapore-built Freedom vessel or oil rig, in the first major conversion work e.g. from a cargo ship into a sheep carrier, from a tanker to a FPSO, the first “jumbourizing” of a ship, etc, etc.

In terms of marine events or incidents, some of you were there when e.g. Neptune Sapphire broke into two, when Eniweitok brought down the cable car system, when Spyros exploded killing 48 people.

We are the pioneers who helped transformed Singapore into a leading maritime nation! And if we share our memories of your first experience or event or incident, we will have the history of Singapore’s maritime history. Our story will be told by you as an individual who was there as it happened. This is a lot more interesting and real than history as told by writers commissioned by corporations or institutions.

I have identified this effort which I will title: “Memories of Singapore Pioneer Mariners” as one project that we call all leave as a legacy for the next generation of mariners. Through our accounts, they will have a good feel of what we all went through to make our maritime industry what it is today.

May I have your memories please! And quickly (within the next 12 months?) too before we forget too much! NOTE: Marine related non-Singaporeans are pioneers too and are welcome to contribute their memories!