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 ‘C’ 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mid-December two Dutch squadrons operating Martin Marylands arrived they had 8 aircraft each, they appear to have been withdrawn from the area by the end of January 1942 along with the remaining Hudsons.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 Sembawang,

 

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 support role.

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[1];
* 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

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