The history of Naval Base Secondary School (NBSS) began in 1957 when the British Navy set aside a piece of land in the British Naval Base at Bah Tan Road to build a proper school for the children of the naval base employees. The school was then known as Naval Base School and was a full school. The first Principal to take the helm was the late Mr Wong Quek Boon. At that time, it was the only full, government, English-medium school in Singapore, with primary and secondary sections. Mr R. Nithianandan who was a teacher, Sports Secretary and later Senior Assistant of the school from 1962 to 1985 recounted that it was not easy to get into the school as one had to be first cleared by a British Admiralty authority, which meant being finger-printed, having a mug-shot taken and then being issued an entry pass!
In 1965, NBSS produced Singapore’s top O-level student, Dr Tan Boon Wan. Other luminary alumni include prominent lawyer Subhas Anandan and soccer player Quah brothers. In 1968, the primary section was transferred to Canberra School.
The school was relocated from its modest buildings at Bah Tan Road to its present premises in Yishun Ring Road in July 1988. The new school building was officially opened by Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, then Minister of Education and was equipped with then up-to-date facilities such as the AVA Theatre, Music Room and a split-level library cum media resource centre, in addition to the standard facilities found in all new schools. In 1997, in line with MOE’s direction for all secondary schools to go single session by 2000, an extension block was erected adjoining the existing building. The year 2000 saw NBSS going single session and the setting up of the NBSS Alumni Association.
The school celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2007 where the Guest-of-Honour RADM (NS) Lui Tuck Yew, then Minister of State, MOE, praised the school for maintaining links with its historical past by continuing ties with the Republic of Singapore Navy through the invitation of navy commanders as guests of honour school events and organising visits for students to the Naval Base as part of national education and career guidance.
NBSS underwent PRIME and was temporarily housed at a holding site in Sembawang from 2008 to 2009. In December 2009, the school returned with great enthusiasm to its beautifully upgraded campus which was designed both as a “ School in a Garden ” and “ School as a Giant Art Gallery ” in-line with the emergence of visual art as a niche strength of the school. A time capsule was sealed at the Graduation Ceremony 2011 and we look forward to its opening in 2026.
Under Phase 8 of PRIME, NBSS occupied a holding site in Sembawang for two years (2008-2009). In December 2009 the school returned to its beautifully upgraded campus equipped with many new facilities. Visual art has emerged as niche strength of the school.
The number of Sec 1 students choosing the school in their top three choices increased from 99 in 2007 to 252 in 2013. Consequently, the school currently has PSLE cut-off points for all courses (Express– 200; Normal Academic– 162; and Normal Technical -111). Student enrolment has been increasing year by year from 1016 in 2007 to 1182 in 2012.
The school’s mission, vision, values, motto and colours were reviewed and re-interpreted in 2006, 2009 and more recently in 2015 to ensure their relevance to evolving school contexts and changing student profiles.
Our Past Principals