The Royal Navy leaves Singapore after 150 years, regrettably causing deaths in the Process


In the expression Singapore Roads [mentioned in the pdf file above], the meaning of Roads is taken to mean a safe navigable channel to and from the Port or to ports within the control of a Port Authority, which is dredged, marked by navigation buoys, has a defined radio communications  link and a means by which temporary dangers can be disseminated.  Thus, Singapore had a 'road' to its main Port of commerce built and operated on the very edge of the City of Singapore in the south of the Island, and a road to the Johore Strait from the west and from the east from the South China Sea. The Royal Navy always used the eastern route, heading for the Naval Base built and operated across the narrow Strait from the Malayan mainland jungle, in the north of the Island. Over land, the distance from the Naval Base to Singapore City was twelve miles.

This picture gives a good close up of the Island of Singapore tucked neatly under the bottom part of Malaysia showing relevant pointers to my story.


and this, exactly the same but in miniature, is animated to show you the route taken by the 16 ships [shown at intervals by little red lines] leaving the naval base for the last time, saluting to port, the C-in-C Far East embarked in RFA Stromess just north of the Singapore new naval base. It was built onto the side of Changi, the new civilian airport having taken it over from the RAF, abandoning 'Paya Lebar' the original civilain airport. Having viewed this, please return to the large picture above, then continue chopping and changing to the text  below this animation to get a good understanding of the potential problem. 


The course to the open sea is quite torturous having many twists and turns although the waterway looks a lot narrower than it is in reality. In particular look at the Island of Pulau Ubin and below it Changi Point. There are several alterations of course with the propellers and the rudder creating a greater turbulence than when steering a steady course. Compound that with the turbulence of fifteen other ships spaced quite close together in a saluting formation  at uniform speed and distance, each, except for the Glamorgan,  following  in the wake of its predecessor and you can begin to see a large and excessive wash onto the beach and shore areas of Changi point at which there were thousands cheering, bidding a fond farewell whilst witnessing an historic event. The admiral and his staff in Glamorgan would have been preoccupied in getting the historic and one hopes spectacular exit  as near perfect as possible especially as it was an RAF officer taking the Salute, but it could be possible that he had not taken account of the crowds that would come to the area [and the Chinese, true to fashion, many in small boats] or the wash-affect caused by the speed of the ships and as mentioned, the course changes, these not to mention any onshore/offshore weather constraints.

In a moment you will read sad files about two little girls who were there, out of harms way one would have thought, behaving themselves and hoping for the joyous event their parents would have mentioned during the exciting wait period. Instead, whilst the exiting ships were making ground towards their exit points and destinations back to west of Suez, they were being lowered into their graves.

I wonder just how many sailors in those ships knew about this unfortunate occurrence, and if they did, whether they held suitable church services, and as importantly  took a group-collection as a material aid to the grieving family back in Singapore becoming more distant after each turn of the ships propellers.

3 November 1971 RN FAREWELL STEAMPAST.pdf