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Singapore Women’s International Shipping, Trading Association Tours USNS Tippecanoe
January 26, 2024



Story by Grady Fontana 

Military Sealift Command Far East

Military Sealift Command (MSC) Far East hosted members of Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA), Singapore Chapter, with a ship tour, at Sembawang Wharves, Singapore, Jan. 24, 2024.

About 20 members of WISTA toured MSC’s fleet replenishment oiler USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO 199) while the ship was pier-side awaiting regularly scheduled maintenance.

WISTA is a networking forum for female professionals involved in shipping, trading and related business within the maritime industry from diverse companies such as ship owners, trading houses, bunkering houses, shipbrokers, chartering, ship management, insurance, finance and the law.

Crew member from Tippecanoe took a moment out of their busy schedule to show the guests interesting aspects of the ship.

“A lot of people might see our ships, yet have no idea what we do, what our function is, or how our ship even works,” said civilian mariner Dan Robinson, chief mate, USNS Tippecanoe. “The tour exposes people to a different element of the Navy, and gives them an idea what an oiler is and how we support the U.S. Navy fleet.”

The guided tour started on the fan tail, progressed through the engine room and to the re-fueling stations, and culminated at the bridge of the ship.

“I’ve been onboard many ships, but mostly cargo ship. This is the first time I’ve been on this kind of refueling ship; it’s amazing for me,” said Magdalene Chew, a member of WISTA. “Even though these members are in shipping industry, some of them have never been on a ship before. I think this is a big deal.”

Tippecanoe crew members demonstrated certain aspects of the ship, highlighting capabilities and features that are unique to the oilers. Many marveled at the amount of fuel and ability to transfer fuel and cargo while at sea.

“I’ve never seen this kind of fueling station,” added Chew. “That’s really good.”

Tippecanoe is part of the combat logistics force fleet of ships that deliver fuel and stores to U.S. Navy ships and certain allies and partners.

“Public ship tours not only promote transparency, which contribute to fostering public trust and an understanding of MSC operations, it also provides an opportunity for the public to appreciate the Navy’s capabilities,” said Robinson. “Ship tours for groups such as WISTA also plays a crucial role in promoting diversity and breaking gender stereotypes. They see that the crew of this ship is a diverse group.”

According to Chew, due to safety concerns, a lot of organizations in Singapore are hesitant to send their employees on board ships even though those employees may have been in the shipping industry for years or even decades.

“I hope that with the publicity and maybe through word of mouth that these (women) can encourage more women to go into their businesses and encourage employers to know that it is perfectly safe for women to go explore,” said Chew.

Commander, Task Force 73, in coordination with MSC Far East, refuels and resupplies deployed naval forces, along with regional allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific.

MSC Far East ensures approximately 50 ships in the Indo-Pacific Region are manned, trained, and equipped to deliver essential supplies, fuel, cargo, and equipment to warfighters, both at sea and on shore. U.S. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

MSC’s workforce includes approximately 6,000 Civil Service Mariners and 1,100 contract mariners, supported by 1,500 shore staff and 1,400 active duty and reserve military personnel.

On any given day, MSC has more than 140 ships, 70 percent at sea or ready for tasking.