Tuesday 19 February 2019

Singapore navy launches first of its four new Type 218SG submarine named Invincible

Timely move to acquire new subs with more firepower, combat options as maritime security challenges evolve: Ng Eng Hen
By Lim Min Zhang, In Kiel, Germany, The Straits Times, 19 Feb 2019

Singapore's acquisition of new submarines which offer more firepower and combat options is a timely move as maritime security challenges evolve and countries beef up their submarine fleets, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

Speaking yesterday at the launch of the first Type 218SG submarine named Invincible, Dr Ng said Singapore faces threats in the maritime domain, including terrorism, the shipping of illegal arms, weapons of mass destruction and people, as well as piracy.

He noted that in Asia, defence spending has risen significantly, hitting US$447 billion (S$606 billion) in 2017, a jump of about 61 per cent from 2008, with many countries modernising their armed forces.

Citing countries such as China, Indonesia, Thailand, India and South Korea that are planning to expand their submarine fleets, Dr Ng added: "In this context, the acquisition of the new Type 218SG submarines is timely."

Speaking to reporters later, Dr Ng also pointed out that Singapore sits astride two of the busiest sea lines of communication in the world - the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca - through which about one-third of the world's maritime trade is transported.

Referring to the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), he said: "So I think most people will receive this development by the RSN with assurance that it is able to do its part in keeping our sea lines of communication open not only for Singapore but the world."

The new submarine will have 50 per cent longer endurance, more firepower, more capable sensors and advanced automation compared to the current RSN fleet of submarines. It will undergo sea trials in Germany before it is delivered to Singapore in 2021. It is the first of four Type 218SG submarines slated to replace the four refurbished Challenger-and Archer-class submarines that the RSN has operated for more than two decades.

The new submarines are customised for Singapore's operating environment, particularly the shallow and busy waters in the region, and are sold to no other country.

The launch of the diesel-electric submarine meant that it has been built but is not yet operational.

The RSN, the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) and German defence contractor thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) worked together on the design and building of the submarine.

Dr Ng called the launch - held at TKMS' shipyard in port city Kiel, about 90km from Hamburg in northern Germany - a "significant milestone" for the RSN and Singapore and hailed the new submarines as a testament to RSN's continual growth and progress. "We got here not in a single jump, but because we persisted," he said.

Dr Ng's wife, Professor Ivy Ng, group chief executive of SingHealth, yesterday launched the submarine at a ceremony attended by the Chief of German Navy, Vice-Admiral Andreas Krause; RSN's Chief of Navy, Rear-Admiral Lew Chuen Hong, and senior defence officials from both countries.

Dr Ng also announced the names of the other new submarines - Impeccable, Illustrious and Inimitable - which are under construction and will be delivered from 2022.

He officiated at the launch yesterday after attending the Munich Security Conference over the weekend, where he met defence counterparts on the sidelines, such as Acting United States Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan.

Colonel Teo Chin Leong, commanding officer of 171 Squadron, which consists of the RSN's fleet of submarines, said the Type 218SG was the most advanced submarine that TKMS has built so far. "It's a bigger boat, but we kept to a crew of 28, which is what we use to operate our current classes. To us, that is already significant," he said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Lim, commanding officer of Invincible, said his crew, coming from RSN's existing submarines, have been selected and training involving extended periods in Germany will start in a few months.

"As the first boat, the things we set in place will form the baseline. For us, when we pick the route we're going to go on, we will be very careful what direction we set, because we must be pushing boundaries," he added.


Customisable submarines built for Singapore needs
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 19 Feb 2019

Starting on a clean slate has allowed Singapore to customise the new Type 218SG submarines more extensively, compared with what it could do with second-hand submarines.

Some of the customisations include using materials that are more suited to the saltier Singapore waters, including more automation that affords crew members more rest, and incorporating design elements that are tailored to the average Singaporean sailor's body size and strength.

Mr Ong Li Koon, director of naval systems at the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), revealed these features when he spoke to reporters yesterday before the launch of the new Type 218SG submarine in the port city of Kiel, Germany.

At the event, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen's wife, Professor Ivy Ng, launched Invincible, which is the first of four Type 218SG submarines purchased by Singapore to be delivered from 2021.

Mr Ong, 43, said the experience with the Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN) latest submarines - known as the Invincible-class - contrasted markedly with its four existing Swedish submarines.

Between 1995 and 1997, the RSN acquired four Sjoormen-class submarines from Sweden which were built in the 1960s. In 2005, Singapore bought and upgraded a pair of Swedish Vastergotland-class submarines, which are called Archer-class vessels.

"For the Swedish submarines, it was more like taking an existing submarine and trying to customise it to our needs. Now, we have a clean sheet, we take an existing design but customise it. We can do a lot more if we want," said Mr Ong, who was director for the Type 218SG submarine programme before taking up his current role last September.

DSTA, RSN and German defence contractor thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) worked together on the design and development of the Type 218SG. Before the launch ceremony, DSTA and TKMS, the manufacturer of the Type 218SG submarines, signed an agreement to collaborate on new technologies such as additive manufacturing and data analytics for naval applications.

The memorandum of understanding allows both parties to work together on the design, engineering, and qualification of additive manufactured components, such as submarine spare parts, which could be tested and trialled on Singapore submarines.

Military Expert 3 Simon Oh, 42, who is coxswain of Invincible, said the RSN's current fleet requires watch keepers in three different locations - for the combat, engineering and weapon functions.

"With this new boat, we are able to co-locate them. This will facilitate better communication and faster decision-making," added the coxswain, who is the most experienced sailor on a ship, responsible for discipline and welfare.

Singapore Navy's First Invincible-Class Submarine Launched -18 Feb 2019

No comments:

Post a Comment