AFTER 20 days at sea, the ship that found the fuselage of the downed AirAsia plane is back in Singapore, concluding the Republic's efforts in helping Indonesia search for the remains of the plane.
The Republic of Singapore Navy ship, MV Swift Rescue, with 70 men and women on board, arrived at Changi Naval Base yesterday and was received by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen. He was accompanied by Chief of Defence Force Ng Chee Meng and navy chief Lai Chung Han.
The arrival of MV Swift Rescue marked the official end of Singapore's efforts in the multi-nation search operation, which started on Dec 28 last year when the AirAsia plane lost radar contact with Indonesia's air traffic control towers.
Since then, the Singapore Armed Forces has deployed more than 400 personnel, two RSAF C-130 aircraft, two Super Puma helicopters, five navy ships and a six-man Autonomous Underwater Vehicle team in the operation.
Many of those who had contributed to the search were also present for MV Swift Rescue's homecoming yesterday. As a mark of respect, they observed a minute of silence for those who died in the air crash.
Dr Ng thanked the servicemen and women for their efforts and for making a difference in the multi-nation search operation. The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were found two weeks after the plane crashed.
"They were very proficient, it was over a holiday season (yet) they responded as they should as soldiers, they went out, did their jobs... put in their full efforts for every task assigned," said Dr Ng.
MV Swift Rescue, which discovered the main wreckage of the AirAsia plane last Wednesday, left the debris field off Kalimantan two days later, after Indonesia said it would carry on the search for the rest of the plane on its own.
Yesterday, the Singapore Disaster Victim Identification team, comprising eight officers from the Singapore Police Force and two forensic experts from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), also returned home.
They met Commissioner of Police Hoong Wee Teck and HSA's chief of forensic medicine, Dr Paul Chui.
This article was first published on January 19, 2015.
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