The Maritime Defence Exhibition & Conference 2017 is on this week at the Changi Exhibition center from 16-18 May. I was present to check out on the latest maritime developments as well as the static warship display at the Changi Naval Base (CNB). Vehicular entry to the Changi exhibition center this time is open to both taxi and private hire cars, unlike the previous airshow which does not allow private hire cars without a vehicle pass. If you are coming from Singapore Expo, there is a shuttle bus pick up point at the bus stop 50m before Expo MRT.
Exhibition portion of the event occupies half of the Changi exhibition center comprising of the big names in the maritime and defense industries. Thankfully, attendees are strictly by delegates and trade show visitors, giving the show a more professional ambience and completely eliminating the rowdy and chaotic Singaporean public crowd typically seen in the Singapore Air Shows, especially on public days.
Highlights for visiting will be naval warship display and tours. Warships from 20 countries are all here at Singapore’s first international maritime review. This includes ships from the United States Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Australian Navy, Thai, China and Russian navy (just to name a few). You can get to learn of on-board operations and even have a chance to buy merchandise from the ships (especially the US ships).
Unlike the Singapore airshow, where planes can be convenient parked within the exhibition grounds right next to the exhibition center with a nearby serviceable runway. The ships on display here only can be berthed at the Changi Naval Base, which is accessible through changing between two shuttle buses- one bringing you from the Exhibition center pickup point into Changi Naval base, and, after clearing another round of security, hop on another smaller looping feeder service bus service bringing you to 7 different stops along the berthing piers where the ships are.
One of the largest ships at the maritime display is the Japan Navy Izumo CLS (JS Izumo P/N 183) Helicopter Carrier. You enter the Carrier from the aircraft bay where you ride the hanger elevator up to the flight deck level. Another aircraft carrier berthed there is the HTMS Chakri Narubet (P/N 911) from the Royal Thai Navy.
Similarly, the warships on display are berthed at and only open to registered visitors and delegates. The Warships Display offered a rare opportunity to get first-hand experience to meet with senior naval officers from various countries who will bring you on tours of their ships. Almost all the ships berthed at the Changi naval base were open for tours when I was there, with the exception of the Izumo, in Japanese fashion runs on clock work with fixed tour times.
The USS Coronado, (LCS-4) an Independence-class littoral combat ship was open, and so were ships from the Republic Of Korea Navy, and the Sri Lanka Navy. Representatives from the People’s Liberation Army Navy, also brought us on tours on the Huang Shan, a Jiang Kai II-Class multi-role frigate.
One of the real rare ships on display is the Russian Navy RFS Varyag (P/N 11). Here you can get a first-hand experience of Russian military engineering. The Slava (Atlant Class Project 1164) ship is a stark contrast to the precise, complicated and neatly trimmed allied ships. Battle-tested rawness, simplicity and simple brute force are what works here.
Singapore is in a rather odd diplomatic position where you can have countries, even with political differences coming together right on Singapore soil. It’s not often where you can go up a US or Japanese ship, and then hop on a Russian, Chinese and Pakistani thereafter.
Definitely a rare experience of a lifetime.
More photos of IMDEX 2017 here.