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The Future of Shipping

Jurong Shipyard was Singapore's first commercial shipyard that had the responsibility to repair, construct and fit out ships for international trade.

The commercialisation of Jurong Shipyard was important for the growth of Singapore’s shipping industry and helped young Singapore navigate the many economic challenges it faced.


Dr Goh Keng Swee (then Minister for Finance) laying the foundation stone of Jurong Shipyard Limited on 20 February 1964.

Ministry of Information and the Arts Collection. Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.


The launch ceremony of the tugboat Anggerek, the third vessel built by Jurong Shipyard Limited.

Ministry of Information and the Arts Collection, Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.

I believe that the ability of Singapore people to learn quickly new skills and their willingness to adapt themselves to new situations have no small measure played a part in helping industrialists decide to use Singapore as a base of operations.
Toh Chin Chye, 4 Dec 1969

A Jurong Shipyard Limited Employment Pass.

Shipbuilding and repair required the involvement of almost every engineering trade and skill available at the time.

This 1964 employment pass offers a peek into the type of work available in the 1960s and the skills that Singaporeans needed to pick up for these jobs.

Collection of the National Museum of Singapore, National Heritage Board.

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One major challenge that newly independent Singapore encountered was the potential loss of 30,000 jobs and a permanent structural change to the economy when the British military's withdrawal from Singapore was announced in 1967.

The impending British military withdrawal meant that Singapore had to pivot quickly. In preparation, Mr Lee Kuan Yew said that Singaporeans had to adjust their methods of work and in some instances, "make the painful change of earning a living in a different way".

An example of this was the conversion of Sembawang Naval Base from military to commercial use.


A plaque commemorating the official opening of the 400,000- tonne dry dock at Sembawang Shipyard, Singapore on 25 May 1975.

Gift of National Archives of Singapore, Lin June Lin. Courtesy of National Museum of Singapore, National Heritage Board.

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