Republic of Singapore Navy

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Republic of Singapore Navy
Angkatan Laut Republik Singapura  (Malay)
新加坡共和国海军 (Chinese)
சிங்கப்பூர் கடல் படை (Tamil)
Republic of Singapore Navy Crest.svg
Crest of the Republic of Singapore Navy
Founded5 May 1967; 53 years ago (1967-05-05)
Country Singapore
Allegiance President of Singapore
BranchNavy
RoleMaritime warfare
Size9000 personnel (2019)[1]
35 ships
Part ofSingapore Armed Forces
Garrison/HQChangi, Singapore
Motto(s)Beyond Horizons
MarchRepublic of Singapore Navy March
Fleet4 + 4 (u/c) submarines
1 submarine rescue ship
6 frigates
6 corvettes
8 littoral mission vessels
2 patrol vessels
4 amphibious transport docks
4 mine countermeasures vessels
2 types of unmanned surface vehicle
EngagementsOperation Thunderstorm
International Force – East Timor
Operation Flying Eagle
Multi-National Force – Iraq
Combined Task Force 150
Combined Task Force 151
Websitewww.mindef.gov.sg/oms/navy/
Commanders
Commander-in-ChiefPresident Halimah Yacob
Minister for DefenceDr Ng Eng Hen
Chief of Defence ForceLieutenant General Melvyn Ong
Chief of NavyRear Admiral Aaron Beng
Chief of Staff, Naval StaffRear Admiral Edwin Leong
Master ChiefMilitary Expert 6 Richard Goh
Insignia
Commissioning PennantCommissioning Pennant of Singapore.svg
Naval EnsignNaval Ensign of Singapore.svg
JackFlag of Singapore.svg

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) is the naval branch of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), responsible for the defence of Singapore against sea-borne threats and protection of its sea lines of communications. Operating within the crowded littoral waters of the Singapore Strait, the RSN is widely regarded as one of the most highly sophisticated and well trained in the region.[2][3] It conducts regular operations with the Royal Malaysian Navy and Indonesian Navy to combat piracy and terrorist threats.[4][5][6] To provide air surveillance of the seaward approaches to Singapore, the RSN also jointly operates maritime patrol aircraft with its counterparts from the RSAF to ensure the security of one of the busiest sealanes in the world.[7]

Though numerically small in comparison to its much larger neighbours in terms of tonnage and manpower reserves, the RSN seeks to maintain a qualitative superiority over any adversary through the implementation of new technologies and fostering of alliances with extra-regional navies.[8] It conducts regular bilateral exercises with the United States, China, India, Australia and New Zealand.[9]

In 2018, procurement plans were announced for a Multi-Role Combat Vessel which will function as a mothership for unmanned assets, and a Joint Multi Mission Ship which will facilitate better disaster relief support and greater aviation capability compared to the existing Endurance class landing ship tanks, leading to speculation that it could effectively serve as a light helicopter carrier.[10][11]

All commissioned ships of the RSN have the prefix RSS standing for Republic of Singapore Ship.

Mission[edit]

The economy and defence are closely interlinked... We need the sea lanes to Singapore to be opened; hence a capable navy is crucial.

— Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew[12]

As an island nation, the RSN forms part of Singapore's first line of defence. Its stated mission objectives are to:[13]

  • Protect Singapore's sealine of communications and contribute to regional peace and security.
  • In peace, maintain continuous surveillance on the Singapore Strait to prevent sea robberies, piracy, terrorism and unwanted incursions.
  • In war, work to secure a swift and decisive victory over any enemy at sea.
  • Conduct diplomacy by exercising with foreign navies and taking part in international operations for peace support, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

History[edit]

Colonial era[edit]

World War II[edit]

The Republic of Singapore Navy traces its origins to the Royal Navy in the 1930s with only two patrol craft. The Straits Settlements Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve was established on 20 April 1934 and in 1941 became the Singaporean division of the Malayan Volunteer Reserve during World War II.[14]

Merger with Malaysia[edit]

In 1948, the Malayan Force was raised by the Singapore government and was later granted the title of the Royal Malayan Navy in 1952 in recognition of its services in action during the Malayan Emergency.

On 16 September 1963, Singapore was admitted as a state of Malaysia under the terms of confederation and the Royal Malayan Navy was renamed the Royal Malaysian Navy. The Singapore division of the Malayan Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve was formally transferred from the command of the Royal Navy to the Malaysian Navy on 22 September 1963, becoming the Singapore Volunteer Force.[14]

Independence of Singapore[edit]

Structural and name changes[edit]

"It is our earnest hope that the separation of KD Singapura from the Royal Malaysian Naval Command on 1st February will in no way disturb the close and fruitful association between the RMN, RMNVR and Singapore division. The RMN will always be available to assist and advise the Singapore Naval Volunteers in all their endeavours. Good luck."

Signal sent by the Royal Malaysian Navy[15]

Telok Ayer Basin no longer exists today; the former basin was reclaimed and today forms part of Marina View road
RSS Panglima, first ship of the RSN, underway in 1988 as a training ship; she was decommissioned in 1991

On 9 August 1965, Singapore seceded from Malaysia to form an independent republic. The Singapore Volunteer Force (SVF) became the de facto naval force of the new state, though it remained under the command of the Royal Malaysian Navy. Three ships remained in Singapore after separation: KD Singapura, a captured Japanese minelayer; KD Bedok, a patrol boat from Malaysia; and KD Panglima, a former Royal Navy inshore patrol boat built in 1956. By agreement with the Malaysian government, Panglima was transferred in 1965, and on 1 February 1966, the SVF came under the command of Singapore and became the Singapore Naval Volunteer Force (SNVF), with Singapura and Bedok recommissioned as Republic of Singapore Ships (RSS); the former serving as a floating headquarters.

On 5 May 1967, the new Singapore naval ensign was hoisted at the Telok Ayer Basin for the first time. The RSN claims the date as the day of their official establishment and commemorates Navy Day on 5 May every year.[16] Within a year, the service was renamed the People's Defence Force – Sea (1967), the Sea Defence Command (1967–1968) and the Maritime Command (1968–1975).[17] These numerous name changes reflected the internal restructuring within the Singapore Armed Forces and the growing realization that maritime security would be a crucial element to national security.[18][19] Headquarters was also shifted ashore to Pulau Belakang Mati in 1968.[20] In order to develop and build up local expertise in seamanship and naval engineering, 160 naval recruits underwent training by Royal New Zealand Navy instructors in 1969. At the same time, aspiring officers were sent overseas to learn from established navies such as Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.[21]

The Maritime Command spearheaded an expansion program that would enable it to combat sea robberies and smuggling while projecting its seaward defense more effectively. In June 1968, six Independence class patrol crafts were purchased and commissioned between 1970 and 1972, marking the first purpose built ships the Navy possessed. This was considered timely with British Prime Minister Harold Wilson having declared his intention to withdraw British troops from major military bases East of Suez by 1971, which required Singapore to fill the imminent security vacuum, though Britain eventually retained a smaller presence under the Five Power Defence Arrangements.[22] Nevertheless, the growing constraints and strategic need for a base located nearer to the Singapore Strait necessitated a new base, and the Brani Naval Base on Pulau Brani was formally opened in December 1974.[21] The foresight was proven correct only a few weeks later, when terrorists from the Japanese Red Army attacked an oil complex on Pulau Bukom and later hijacked the Laju ferry, leading to the Laju incident. Four patrol vessels, RSS Sea Hawk, RSS Independence, RSS Sovereignty and RSS Daring together with the Marine Police, were able to surround the fleeing ferry and prevent it from escaping.[21]

Colonel James Aeria would be the final commander of the Maritime Command.[23][24] On 1 April 1975, with the reorganisation of the SAF into three distinct services, the Maritime Command was officially renamed the Republic of Singapore Navy, and has kept the name ever since.[25][26]

Modernization of the fleet[edit]

The RSN was the first navy in the region to successfully conduct a live missile firing when RSS Sea Wolf fired two Gabriel missiles in March 1974.[27] From 1975 to 1976, six Sea Wolf class missile gunboats were commissioned, which proved vital during Operation Thunderstorm when they were deployed to patrol and apprehend the influx of boat people fleeing the fall of South Vietnam. In order to support sealift operations, six County class tank landing ships were purchased from the United States; these were popularly referred to as dollars ships due to the price ($1) paid for each vessel. Two Bluebird class minesweepers were also transferred from the United States to combat the threat of mine warfare within the narrow and shallow channels of the Singapore Strait.[9][28] Prior to this, the SAF Diving Center had already been established in 1971 to train the first batch of frogman recruits in conducting underwater mine disposal operations.[29] In 1975, the service was reformed as the Naval Diving Unit and based at Sembawang Camp, where it remains.[21]

Pedra Branca is a formerly disputed island between Malaysia and Singapore; though since awarded to Singapore, the waters around it remain undelimited

During the latter half of the decade, the increased operational demands and rate of patrols led the Navy to seek three additional missile gunboats and an upgrade to the Harpoon missile for the existing fleet under Project Albatross. However, due to budgetary constraints in the early 1980s, Defence Minister Howe Yoon Chong decided that more funds should instead be allocated to the Air Force for the acquisition of a squadron of F-16s; the fighter jets were deemed to possess a higher strategic strike value and capable of more diverse roles compared to ships. Howe claimed the navy's function was best relegated to coastal defense, even suggesting mounting Oerlikon guns on towed barges as a replacement to guard the nation's maritime borders.[9] While the plan did not come to fruition, the reduced budget was sufficient to commission twelve Swift class coastal patrol craft which freed the missile gunboats from daily patrols for more strategic operations, though the upgrading program did not proceed.[30][31]

RSS Resolution (left, background) underway off the coast of Iraq as part of Combined Task Force 158

With the Navy being the lowest priority among the three services, it saw little hope of an expanded fleet with a larger stake in Singapore's defence; many people left the service. This created a "crisis of confidence" within the RSN in the next few years, which defence planners regarded as lacking a proper doctrine for existence beyond patrols and tackling illegal immigration. It was not until 1984 that naval officials convinced the government of the necessity of a seagoing fleet to secure the nation's sea lines of communication in the Malacca Strait and South China Sea, both of which lead to the Port of Singapore; a major contributor to the economy.[9] To combat the growing technological obsolescence and decline in morale, the government launched the "Navy 2000" program. The service underwent an internal restructuring with the formation of the Coastal Command (COSCOM) in 1988 and the First and Third Flotillas in 1989, formalizing the responsibilities of each class of ship.[32] Between 1990 and 2001, the resurgent navy acquired six Victory class missile corvettes, twelve Fearless class patrol vessels, four Endurance class landing ship tanks and also commissioned four secondhand Challenger class submarines from Sweden to hone its underwater domain skills.[9]

In 1979, Malaysia had published a map laying claim to Pedra Branca, an offshore island controlled by Singapore. The resultant Pedra Branca dispute lasted 29 years until 2008 when the island was awarded to Singapore by the International Court of Justice, during which the Navy was heavily involved in patrols and maintained an active presence in the waters surrounding the island.[33] In January 2003, RSS Courageous collided with a merchant vessel within the vicinity of Pedra Branca during a patrol, resulting in four casualties and the first ship to be stricken as a total loss.[34] As a result of the accident, additional safety measures were implemented and the training program enhanced, including the requirement for all officers to better understand the maneuvering characteristics of their ship and take a COLREGs test every six months.[35]

The RSN also participated in operations other than war within Southeast Asia and abroad. The Navy deployed its Bedok class mine-countermeasure vessels to search the Musi River for SilkAir Flight 185; served as part of the Australian-led International Force East Timor to address the humanitarian and security crisis in the aftermath of the territory's referendum for independence in 1999; deployed three ships to provide humanitarian assistance and emergency aid to the Indonesian town of Meulaboh in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake;[36][37] and was part of the Multi-National Force – Iraq coalition force maintaining maritime security around key Iraqi installations in the Persian Gulf.[27][38]

New security challenges[edit]

RSS Steadfast and RSS Vigilance sailing line abreast during CARAT Singapore 2010
Map of the Tuas maritime dispute, which shows Malaysia's new claims going beyond its 1979 maritime line

Mindful of the need to upgrade its capabilities to counter ever evolving security threats, the RSN has introduced new Archer class submarines, Formidable class frigates and Independence class littoral mission vessels to its fleet, further enhancing its deterrence at a time of rising disputes in the surrounding seas. In 2009, COSCOM was revamped into the Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF) to act as a co-ordinating agency for all national maritime agencies to allow for the seamless execution of maritime security operations. In response to a surge in piracy during the decade, the RSN also engaged in multilateral anti piracy operations in the Malacca Strait with neighbouring nations;[39] and in the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa under the multinational naval Combined Task Force 151, taking command of the task force thrice.[40][41][42]

It also participated in both the search for MH Flight 370 in the Gulf of Thailand and QZ Flight 8501 in the Karimata Strait in 2014.[43][44][45] In an analysis of the SAF humanitarian response to Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen noted that the disruption of communications on the ground underscored the need for a Joint Multi Mission Ship platform which could provide "centralised ability for command and control" in the air.[46]

In October 2018, Malaysia extended its Johor port limits past its 1979 maritime claims into waters off the reclaimed Tuas sector which Singapore claims as its own, leading to a tit-for-tat response as the latter extended its Singapore port limits to overlap with Malaysia's. As Malaysia deployed elements of the Malaysia Coast Guard and government ships to enforce their claims, the RSN's littoral mission vessels were stationed on location 24/7 with the Police Coast Guard, leading to the 2018 Tuas standoff.[47] Both nations eventually suspended the overlapping port limits and withdrew from the area following successful negotiations, though the area remains undelimited.[48][49]

The RSN celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017 and hosted an international fleet review, with twenty nations participating.[16]

Organisation[edit]

Organisational chart of the RSN
RSS Formidable fires an Aster missile during a bilateral exercise with the USN
The Naval Military Experts Institute overlooks the sea

Command structure

The Republic of Singapore Navy is led by the Chief of Navy (CNV), who reports directly to the Chief of Defence Force (CDF). The CNV is responsible for the RSN's overall operational capabilities and administration. His deputies are the Chief of Staff-Naval Staff, Commander Maritime Security Task Force, Fleet Commander and Master Chief Navy. The organisational chart shows the peacetime administrative chain of command with six formations: the Fleet, Maritime Security Command, Naval Logistics Command, Naval Diving Unit, Navy Medical Service and the Maritime Training and Doctrine Command.[50] The current Chief of Navy is Rear Admiral Aaron Beng, who took over command on 23 March 2020.[51][52]

Operating force

The Fleet is responsible for operations beyond the Singapore Strait and represents the main strike arm of the navy. Its advanced frigates and missile corvettes are capable of conducting anti-surface, anti-air and anti-submarine operations with their equipped armaments and sensors. Its landing ships tank and civil resource vessels provide sea transportation and logistics support overseas, while the submarines force provides a subsurface capability for the navy.[52]

The Maritime Security Command (MARSEC) was formed in June 2020 as part of the internal restructuring of the prior Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF), which itself hailed from the inaugural Coastal Command.[53][54] As a SAF-level task force operating close to shore within the littoral environment, the patrol vessels and littoral mission vessels interoperate with other governmental organisations such as the Police Coast Guard, port authority and immigration agencies. It also has a dedicated mine-countermeasure squadron to sweep the straits for mines. Sea security teams conduct regular boarding operations onboard merchant vessels to check for contraband material and suspicious activities.[55] The MSTF was unique in that it was supposed to report directly to the CDF in times of war, though it is unclear if the reformed MARSEC continues the practice.[52]

The Naval Diving Unit is charged with "explosive ordnance disposal, underwater mine demolition and commando-type missions". Its personnel are considered among the elite forces of Singapore.[52][56]

Training

As with the army and air force, all officers of the navy are trained and commissioned at the Officer Cadet School with their interservice counterparts. As midshipmen, part of their training involves being deployed four weeks at sea with the regular fleet to hone their skills in leadership, navigation and basic seamanship.[57] Enlisted specialists and regular military experts (ratings) are instructed in their specialized domains at the Naval Military Experts Institute based at Changi Naval Base.[52]

Current fleet[edit]

Submarines[edit]

Challenger class[edit]

RSS Chieftain during her refurbishment in Sweden

In 1995, the RSN acquired a Sjöormen class submarine from the Swedish Navy and rechristened it the Challenger class. Another three were transferred in 1997, making them Singapore's first underwater platforms.[58] As the submarines were designed for operations in the Baltic Sea, various modifications were required to suit them to tropical waters. A comprehensive tropicalisation refitting programme was implemented for all four submarines, which involved the installation of air conditioning, marine growth protection systems and corrosion-resistant piping.[59]

It was believed that the Challenger class were purchased to develop the required submarine operations expertise before selecting a modern class of submarines to replace them, since all the boats were then over 40 years old.[60] RSS Challenger and RSS Centurion were retired from service in 2015.[61]

Archer class[edit]

The Archer class submarines were also former Swedish Navy combatants and known as the Västergötland class. In November 2005, an agreement was signed with Kockums for the same tropicalisation modifications for two submarines.[62] Amidst the refitting process, an air independent propulsion system was installed, which necessitated the cutting apart of the submarine's hull to fit new components. RSS Archer was relaunched on 16 June 2009[63] and recommissioned on 2 December 2011, with her sister boat RSS Swordsman being commissioned on 30 April 2013.[64][65] The AIP modification enables the submarines to have longer submerged endurance and lower noise signature, enhancing its stealth capability. The advanced sonar system is capable of detecting contacts at a further distance, while the torpedo system has a better target acquisition capability, which allows the submarines to engage contacts at a further range.

An upgrade program was conducted between 2016 and early 2019, which involved the installation of CM010 optronic periscopes and new combat management, sonar and countermeasure systems.

Invincible class[edit]

Rendering of an Invincible class submarine

The Invincible class, also known as Type 218SG, is a submarine class ordered from Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Two Invincible class submarines were procured in November 2013 and another two in May 2017.[66][67] Several German industry experts commented then that the project would cost about one billion Euros and take six years to complete, with the first submarine expected to be delivered in 2020.[68]

The diesel electric submarines will have 50 per cent longer endurance, more firepower, more capable sensors and advanced automation than the existing fleet of RSN submarines. Armed with eight torpedo tubes and manned by a crew of 28, they can travel at a surface speed of more than 10 knots and a submerged speed of more than 15 knots. These submarines are particularly customized for Singapore's shallow and busy waters.[69]

The first of four, RSS Invincible, was launched on 18 February 2019. She will undergo sea trials in Germany before delivery in 2022.[70] The second boat is also due in 2022, with the remaining two scheduled to follow by 2024. The Invincible and Archer class submarines are projected to replace the Challenger class afterwards.[71]

All submarines, regardless of class, form the Seventh Flotilla of the RSN. The RSN also operates the submarine support and rescue vessel MV Swift Rescue.[72]

Frigates[edit]

RSS Steadfast with a USN SH-60B Seahawk helicopter during flight deck qualifications

The Formidable class multi-role stealth frigates entered service with the RSN in 2007 and are derivatives of the French Navy's La Fayette class frigate.[73] The frigates are key information nodes and fighting units, and are "by far the most advanced surface combatants in Southeast Asia"[74] with a special surface-to-air missile configuration which combines the Thales Herakles radar with the Sylver A50 launcher and a mix of MBDA Aster 15 and 30 missiles.[75] Other armaments include Boeing Harpoon missiles and an OTO Melara 76 mm gun for surface defence.

Equipped with Sikorsky S-70B naval helicopters, an international derivative of the Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk. These naval helicopters feature anti-surface and anti-submarine combat systems, extending the ship's own surveillance and over-the-horizon targeting and anti-submarine warfare capabilities. The naval helicopters are part of the 123 squadron of the RSAF and piloted by air force pilots.[76] Two more S-70B helicopters were ordered in February 2013.[77]

The lead ship of the class, RSS Formidable was built overseas in Lorient, France and commissioned locally on 5 May 2007, marking the 40th anniversary of the RSN. The final two ships, RSS Stalwart and RSS Supreme were commissioned on 16 January 2009. The six frigates form the First Flotilla of the RSN.

Corvettes[edit]

Missile corvette RSS Valiant underway in the South China Sea in 2018

In 1983, the RSN ordered six Victory class corvettes from Friedrich Lürssen Werft of Germany,[78] with the first being built in Germany and remaining five locally by ST Marine. They were the first ships in the RSN to have an anti-submarine capability.[79] and remain the fastest ships in the fleet with a maximum speed of 37 knots. Its distinctive tall mast makes it top-heavy compared to ships of similar class.

The corvettes have been continuously upgraded to incorporate new technologies and better sea keeping capabilities, with two sets of 8-cell Barak I installed in 1996 as part of a general refit and a life extension program in 2009.[80][81] The ability to launch a single ScanEagle UAV was retrofitted in 2012 to allow the ship to conduct remote surveillance without the need to approach a target, though the antisubmarine capability, which consisted of anti-submarine torpedoes and variable depth sonar detectors, was removed during the refit.[82] The six corvettes form the Eighth Flotilla of the RSN.

The Victory class corvettes are projected to be replaced by six Multi-Role Combat Vessels by 2030.[70]

Patrol vessels[edit]

Fearless class[edit]

Patrol vessel RSS Resilience on patrol duties

The Fearless class patrol vessels were built locally by ST Marine to replace the older coastal patrol crafts, which were transferred to the Police Coast Guard. The first six vessels of the class are armed for anti-submarine warfare missions, and were placed under the command of the Fleet as 189 Squadron upon commission. In January 2003, RSS Courageous was badly damaged in a collision with a container ship in the Singapore Strait.[83] In January 2005, 189 Squadron was transferred to the then-Coastal Command from the Fleet, and the twelve ships now form the 182/189 Squadron.[84] In May 2016, with the completion of RSS Independence's sea trials, 182 and 189 Squadron were merged to form the new 182 Squadron.[85] With the restructuring of the Maritime Security Task Force into the Maritime Security Command in June 2020, the Independence-class littoral mission vessels now form the Eighth Flotilla of the RSN.[53]

Independence class[edit]

Littoral mission vessel RSS Fortitude on patrol duties

The Independence class littoral mission vessel are a class of eight surface platforms. On 30 January 2013, MINDEF awarded ST Engineering a contract for the design and build 8 vessels to replace the Fearless class patrol vessels. ST Engineering announced that the group's marine arm, ST Marine, will build the ships at its Singapore Benoi Yard, with the core combat systems and combat system integration solutions being supplied by the group's electronics arm, ST Electronics. ST Marine will then carry out the platform system integration as the lead system integrator. The first vessel was delivered in 2016 and all eight ships are fully operational as of 2020.[86][87] The eight littoral mission vessels form the 182 Squadron of the RSN.[88]

Amphibious transport docks[edit]

Landing ship tank RSS Persistence underway in the Singapore Strait

The Endurance class amphibious transport docks are the biggest class of ships in the RSN. They were designed and built locally by ST Marine to replace the old County class tank landing ships (LST). Each ship is fitted with a well dock that can accommodate four landing craft and a flight deck that can accommodate two medium lift helicopters.[89] While the RSN describes the Endurance class as LSTs, they lack the beaching capability traditionally associated with LSTs, and their well docks and flight decks qualify the Endurance class more as amphibious transport docks.

The ships provide sea transportation for personnel and equipment for SAF's overseas training, as well as a training platform for RSN's midshipmen. RSS Endurance became the first RSN ship to circumnavigate the globe when it participated in the 2000 International Naval Review in New York City.[90] The ships are also actively involved in humanitarian and disaster relief operations, notably in East Timor, the Persian Gulf, the tsunami-hit Indonesian province of Aceh and most recently, disappearance of Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501.[45] The four ships form the Third Flotilla of the RSN.

Mine countermeasures vessels[edit]

Bedok class MCMVs berthed at Changi Naval Base during the Navy Open House 2007

The RSN acquired mine countermeasure capabilities as early as 1975, when the USN's USS Thrasher and USS Whippoorwill were reactivated by the RSN's engineers and technicians in California. The Redwing class coastal minesweepers were commissioned as RSS Jupiter and RSS Mercury.[91]

These two ships were eventually replaced by the Bedok class mine countermeasures vessels. The first ship, RSS Bedok, was built by Karlskronavarvet in Sweden based on the Landsort class design. The remaining three ships were prefabricated in Sweden and transferred to Singapore for final assembly by ST Marine. The ships are constructed of glass reinforced plastic to maintain low magnetic and acoustic signatures, and are fitted with Voith Schneider Propellers, giving it the highest manoeuvrability in the navy. The ships form the Sixth Flotilla of the RSN.[53]

Others[edit]

The RSN operates the Protector unmanned surface vehicles. They were deployed together with the Endurance class landing platform dock ships to the North Persian Gulf for peacekeeping operations in 2005, where they performed surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as force protection duties for more than eight hours at a go.[92]

Historical fleet[edit]

Missile gunboats[edit]

The Sea Wolf class missile gunboats were acquired in 1968, based on the TNC 45 design from Fredrich Lürssen Werft.[93] The first two gunboats were constructed in Germany, while the remaining four were constructed locally by ST Marine (then known as Singapore Shipbuilding and Engineering).

As new technology became available, these gunboats underwent a number of upgrading programmes in the 1980s and 1990s to increase their strike capability and sophistication. These gunboats became the first missile-armed naval vessels in Southeast Asia when they were upgraded to launch Boeing Harpoon (SSM) surface-to-surface missiles.[94] On 13 May 2008, all six gunboats were retired at a sunset decommissioning ceremony held at Changi Naval Base following 33 years of service.[95]

Ships
  • RSS Sea Wolf (P76)—commissioned 1975
  • RSS Sea Lion (P77)—commissioned 1975
  • RSS Sea Dragon (P78)—commissioned 1975
  • RSS Sea Tiger (P79)—commissioned 1976
  • RSS Sea Hawk (P80)—commissioned 1976
  • RSS Sea Scorpion (P81)—commissioned 1976
RSS Sea Dragon docked at Changi Naval Base during the Navy Open House 2007
Length 45 metres
Beam 6.5 metres
Displacement 270 tonnes
Crew 40
Speed 30 knots (56 km/h)
Weapons

Bases[edit]

Republic of Singapore Navy is located in Singapore
Tuas
Tuas
Changi
Changi
Brani
Brani
Pulau Belakang Mati
Pulau Belakang Mati
Telok Ayer
Telok Ayer
Past and present naval bases

Tuas Naval Base[edit]

Entrance to Tuas Naval Base

Tuas Naval Base (TNB) is located at the western tip of Singapore and occupies 0.28 km2 (0.11 mi2) of land. It was officially opened on 2 September 1994 by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. For about two decades, Brani Naval Base was the RSN's only base. An expansion of the fleet in the early 1980s meant that more space was needed for the fleet and its shore infrastructure. However, this was not possible as the land around Brani was reserved for use by the port authority to develop container facilities.[96] As a result, Tuas was selected as the site for a new naval base.

Better utilisation of space at TNB resulted in two and a half times more berthing space than Brani, even though TNB only has a shoreline of 850 m (0.5 mi). Provision was also made for recreational facilities. Automation was incorporated into the design of TNB to reduce manpower requirements, such as mechanical ramps for the loading and unloading of vehicles and an automatic storage and retrieval system. It also has a floating dock which can lift 600 tonnes and transfer a ship from sea to land to facilitate repairs and maintenance.[97]

The base has since been enclosed to the west by land reclamation in Tuas South. Currently, the missile corvettes, patrol vessels and mine counter-measures vessels are based at TNB.

Changi Naval Base[edit]

Entrance to Changi Naval Base

Changi Naval Base (CNB) is the latest naval facility of the RSN and was built to replace Brani Naval Base. Located on 1.28 km2 (0.50 mi2) of reclaimed land at the eastern tip of Singapore, it was officially opened on 21 May 2004 by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. Its 6.2 km (3.9 mi) berthing space can accommodate an aircraft carrier and is often used by visiting ships of the USN.[98]

Automation was incorporated into the design of CNB to reduce manpower requirements. It has an automated underground ammunition depot that allows ammunition to be loaded onto the ships and an automated warehouse system to store items. The base has a fibre optic broadband network for information management. The base was also designed to be environment-friendly, with small-scale wind turbines powering the lights along the breakwaters at night. Conventional roof construction materials were substituted by thin film solar panels and the solar energy generated lights the base. In addition, seawater is used in the air-conditioning system.[99]

Currently, the submarines, frigates and amphibious transport docks are based at CNB. Co-located in CNB is the Naval Military Experts Institute, also known as RSS Panglima—named in honour of the first ship of the navy.[100][101]

Chief of Navy[edit]

RADM Aaron Beng is the Chief of Navy of the Republic of Singapore Navy
RADM (Ret) Teo Chee Hean, presently Senior Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for National Security
RADM (Ret) Lui Tuck Yew, presently Ambassador of Singapore to the People's Republic of China
List of Chiefs of Navy[102]
Years in office Name
Commander, Singapore Naval Volunteer Force
1966–1968 Jaswant Singh Gill
Commander, Maritime Command
1969–1969 Mohamed Bin Mohd Salleh
1969–1970 Geoffrey Vernon Dennis
1970–1975 James Aeria
Commander, Republic of Singapore Navy
1975–1985 Khoo Eng Ann
1985–1990 James Leo
Chief of Navy
1990–1991 James Leo
1991–1992 Teo Chee Hean
1992–1996 Kwek Siew Jin
1996–1999 Richard Lim Cherng Yih
1999–2003 Lui Tuck Yew
2003–2007 Ronnie Tay
2007–2011 Chew Men Leong
2011–2014 Ng Chee Peng
2014–2017 Lai Chung Han
2017–2020 Lew Chuen Hong
2020–present Aaron Beng

In popular culture[edit]

Television programs
  • Navy, first telecast 17 July 1990
  • Be Somebody, first telecast 25 May 2004
Film(s)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Military and Security Services Personnel Strength". The World Factbook. Archived from the original on 1 July 2020. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  2. ^ Huxley, Tim (2001). Defending the Lion City. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-86508-118-2.
  3. ^ Foizee, Bahauddin. "Why Singapore's Navy Should Be Taken Seriously". The National Interest. Archived from the original on 5 September 2020. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  4. ^ "How a tiny city-state became a military powerhouse with the best air force and navy in Southeast Asia". Archived from the original on 5 September 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
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