The airfield lies in the north of Singapore
Island, in the B.T. Sembawang estate. It is 3 miles south of the
naval base and 1.5 miles north of Nee-Soon village. The causeway
across the Johore strait lies 3.5 to the northwest. The airfield is
90 feet above mean sea level. The station comprised of 4 Bellman and
1 â€˜Câ€™ type hangers, the control building was located in front of
the hangar complex on the south side of the landing area. In March
1940 the airfield was officially listed as an unoccupied RAF
station, it had a grass surface with 3 landing areas running NE/SW,
NW/SE and N/S..
Sembawang received its first operational units in
July and August 1940 when the Hudsons of No. 1 (GR0) and No. 8
squadrons Royal Australian .Air Force arrived, the later leaving in
November. No. 21 squadron R.A.A.F. operated Brewster Buffalos from
Sembawang during 1941 they were replace by No. 453 squadron RAF,
also operating Buffalos, which arrived in August 1941
In mid-December two Dutch squadrons operating
Martin Marylands arrived they had 8 aircraft each, they appear to
have been withdrawn from the area by the end of January 1942 along
with the remaining Hudsons. With had gone to Sumatra. By this time
there were only 6 serviceable Buffaloes remaining at Sembawang.
During February all remaining serviceable aircraft were evacuated to
Sumatra, the airfield suffering regular damage from the Japanese
artillery on the mainland.
Singapore surrendered to the Japanese army on February 15th 1942.
Whilst occupied by the Japanese Sembawang came under the control of
both the Japanese Army and for a time the Japanese Navy, these two
forces surprisingly despised each other, the Island of Singapore
becoming divided North/South, the nay controlling the North and the
Army the South.
Following the Japanese surrender a naval advance
party returned to take control in September 1945. They found about
90 Zero fighters on the airfield and some 700 Japanese officers and
men. The station was honeycombed with tunnels and foxholes and in a
state of considerable disorder. Work on restoring the station to
working order was started immediately and Japanese prisoners of war
were employed filling in foxholes and tunnels and the laying of a
1,400 x 50 yard pierced steel planking runway.
MONAB IX was to occupy the station and initiate
naval flying and aviation support facilities for the region. The
advance parties arrive at Sembawang in mid-September by air, the
main body of the unit travelling from Sydney by sea. MONAB IX
commissioned the airfield as HMS NABROCK, Royal Naval Air Station
Sembawang on October 5th 1945.
HMS NABROCK & MONAB IX paid off at RNAS Sembawang
15-12-45, the station re-commissioning the same day as HMS SIMBANG.
Sembawang's resident flying unit No. 791 Naval
Air Squadron arrived on December 27th 1945 to operate as a Fleet
Requirements unit; equipment comprised a mixture of 6 Vengeance
target tugs, 6 Corsairs and 1 Harvard. 791 F.R.U was disbanded on
June 16th 1947. HMS SIMBANG was to provide shore based support for
many disembarked front-line squadrons as well as holding a war
reserve of MONAB equipment on the station
RNAS SIMBANG paid off on December 31st 1947 and
Sembawang was transferred to RAF control on January 16th 1948. 60
squadron, flying Spitfire F18 & Harvards, was the first RAF unit to
take up residence, followed by 28 squadron with Spitfire FR18s and
No. 1914 Flight operating Auster 6s.
The Royal Navy's involvement in Malayan
conflict brought about a need for shore based air support facilities
in the region; to accommodate and support disembarked carrier based
aircraft and to provide rest & recreation facilities for the
squadrons operating in the area. The decision was taken to transfer
Sembawang back to the RN, effective from 16th January 1950. HMS
SIMBANG was re-commissioned at RNAS Sembawang on January 28th but
the station reverted to RAF control.
HMS SIMBANG was to re-commission at RNAS
Sembawang again on July 1st 1953, to provide shore facilities for
visiting squadrons, before paying off and reducing to Care &
Maintenance basis on April 1st 1957. No. 848 Naval Air Squadron was
to disband at Sembawang in December 1956 it's Whirlwind HAS21s
having arrived in early January of 1953, and together with 194
Squadron RAF, operating Dragonflies, which joined them in February,
they were to form 303 Wing, the UKs first operational helicopter
wing, moving to Kuala Lumpur in May.
Sembawang was to become an operational HQ for the
Royal Marines from the early 1960s, 42 Commando Brigade arrived to
take up residence in 1960, along with a reformed 848 squadron, now
operating Whirlwind HAS 7s, disembarked form HMS Bulwark. March 1961
saw the installation of 3rd Commando Brigade Head Quarters at
HMS SIMBANG was re-commissioned at RNAS Sembawang
on September 4th 1962, again to operate as accommodation and support
for Fleet Air Arm units operating in the Far East. A Fleet
Amphibious Forces Bases was established at Sembawang in 1966, and
this saw the marine contingent expanded with the arrival of 40
Commando to join the new force. A new squadron, No. 3 Commando
Brigade Air Squadron was formed at Sembawang ion August 12th 1968 to
support the marines; further helicopter support was to be provided
the following April when 847 Naval Air Squadron reformed at
Sembawang operating 10 Wessex HU.5s in the troop transport and
Control of the Sembawang facilities was
transferred to ANZUK Support HQ on September 1st 1971; HMS SIMBANG
finally paid off on September 30th 1971.
*The base was renamed Sembawang Air Base (SBAB)
in 1971 when it was handed over to the Singapore Air Defence Command
(SADC). and from 1971 to 1976, under the Five Power Defence
Arrangements, Sembawang housed British, Australian and New Zealand
forces. In 1983, the airbase became a full fledged rotary-wing air
base when the first resident helicopter squadron - the 120 Squadron
was permanently relocated from Changi Air Base.
Sembawang Air Base operates approximately 100
helicopters, almost all are operating in support of the Singapore
Army and the Republic of Singapore Navy. It is the home base to all
the Republic of Singapore Air Force's helicopter squadrons,
consisting of AS-332 Super Pumas, CH-47SD Chinooks, the soon to
enter service Sikorsky S-70B (derivative of SH-60 Seahawk) naval
helicopters, as well as the Fennecs and UH-1Hs, which are currently
stored in reserve. Recently added to the base are the AH-64D Longbow
Apache Attack Helicopters.
The Flying squadrons are:
* 120 Squadron with 20 AH-64D Longbow Apaches;
* 123 Squadron with 4 EC120 Colibri;
* 124 Squadron with 20 AS 550C2/U2 Fennec;
* 125 Squadron with 22 AS332M Super Puma, four of these are
configured for Search and rescue duties;
* 126 Squadron with 12 AS532UL/AL Cougar but is currently based at
Oakey Airbase in support of SAF's training need in Australia;
* 127 Squadron with 12 CH-47SD Chinooks.
The Support Squadrons are:
* Air Logistics Squadron (ALS)
* Airfield Maintenance Squadron (AMS)
* Field Defence Squadron (FDS)
* Flying Support Squadron (FSS)
Currently, the RSAF's Chong Pang Camp SADA (Singapore Air Defense
Artillery), with its associated Air Defense assets, is also located
within the compound of the air base as well as the famous local
Sembawang Hot Spring.
*This section sourced from