Singapore's most advanced submarines declared battle-ready

The last of Singapore's most advanced submarines was declared battle-ready on Tuesday, sharpening the capabilities of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) in underwater warfare.

The last of Singapore's most advanced submarines was declared battle-ready on Tuesday, April 30, 2013, sharpening the capabilities of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) in underwater warfare. -- FILE PHOTO: MINDEF

The RSS Swordsman was commissioned, following more than two years of tests and torpedo-firing exercises in Sweden and in the warmer and more corrosive waters here. The 60.5m diesel-electric vessel arrived in Singapore in last December. This is the second Archer-class vessel to be added to the RSN's 171 Squadron, after the first, RSS Archer, was declared operational in 2011. The submarine squadron also comprises four ageing Challenger-class submarines.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who officiated the ceremony, presented the commissioning warrant to the Commanding Officer of RSS Swordsman, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Loh Mun Heng.

With RSS Swordsman joining her sister ship RSS Archer - commissioned in December 2011 - in active service, Mr Tharman pointed out that the RSN had crossed a new milestone in its submarine development and was now capable of conducting more complex maritime operations.

"RSS Swordsman, her sister boat RSS Archer and our Challenger-class submarines form part of an integrated warfighting system - together with our stealth frigates, naval helicopters, missile corvettes and mine-countermeasure vessels - a force that safeguards Singapore's maritime interests and protects our territorial integrity."

Acquired from the Royal Swedish Navy in 2005 and launched in Sweden in 2010, RSS Swordsman went through extensive sea trials in Sweden before she returned to Singapore on 31 Dec 2012.

The submarine, which will operate under the RSN's 171 Squadron with RSS Archer, has been refurbished for operations in local conditions. The ship also boasts upgraded combat and sensor suites and the addition of an Air Independent Propulsion system for greater stealth, extended reach and expanded operational capabilities.

LTC Loh elaborated on how his crew prepared the submarine to be combat-ready in just four months: "Upon our return to Singapore, we validated our submarine to operate safely in our local conditions, ran (through) all our systems and participated in exercises with the frigate and naval helicopter, integrating as part of the fleet." The exercises included combined anti-submarine warfare, submarine rescue and torpedo exercises.

According to LTC Loh, the RSS Swordsman crew also benefited from the experiences of the crew of the RSS Archer. He explained: "Besides the crew from (RSS) Archer passing down lessons learnt to us, half of my crew are also from the Challenger-class submarines, and when we brought over our experiences, we were able to quicken our learning process."

For the crew, the commissioning of their submarine signalled the beginning of their journey as operators of a warship. As LTC Loh put it: "Operationalisation doesn't have an end-state...we will continue to hone our skills."

Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Dr Mohamed Maliki Bin Osman, Chief of Defence Force Major-General Ng Chee Meng and Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral (RADM) Ng Chee Peng were also present at the ceremony, with other senior officers from the Singapore Armed Forces.

The Strait Times /