Singapore Commissions First Frigate, Prepares for IMDEX 2007
By WENDELL MINNICK, TAIPEI
Singapore has commissioned its first frigate, the 3,200-ton RSS Formidable, during a ceremony held May 5 at Changi Naval Base. The commissioning coincided with the Singaporean Navy’s 40th anniversary.
The ceremony was presided over by Defense Minister Teo Chee Hean; Rear Adm. Ronnie Tay, chief of the Navy; and Col. Jackson Chia, commanding officer of the RSS Formidable.
Teo cited the importance Singapore plays in protecting regional maritime security and the Navy’s role in dealing with the threats of piracy, terrorism and environmental disaster.
“We can expect sea trade to continue growing,” he said. “In 2006, shipping tonnage calling Singapore reached 1.3 billion gross tons, a 14 percent increase over 2005 and a 71 percent increase over 1996.”
Teo stated that 50 percent of global oil shipments, including 70 percent of Japan’s and 80 percent of China’s oil imports, pass through the Malacca Strait annually.
In March 2000, Singapore signed a contract with French shipbuilder DCN for six frigates. The first was built by DCN with the remaining five constructed by Singapore Technologies (ST) Marine. So far, four frigates — the Formidable, Intrepid, Steadfast and Tenacious — have been delivered to the Navy. The remaining two, Stalwart and Supreme, are at various stages of construction.
All six frigates are expected to be operational by 2009. The ships are comprised of a mix of U.S. and French armaments. Along with the Harpoon and Aster missiles, Whitehead A244S torpedoes and an Oto Melara 76mm gun, each ship can carry one Sikorsky S-70B helicopter.
“The commissioning of the RSS Formidable marked a major milestone in the Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN’s) capabilities and will be a key node in the Integrated Knowledge-based Command and Control (IKC2) network of the Third Generation SAF [Singapore Armed Forces]. Through advanced combat systems and weaponry, the frigates will increase the RSN’s and the SAF’s battlespace awareness and enhance the Navy’s anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare capabilities,” read a statement released by the Ministry of Defense.
The commissioning coincides with Singapore’s biannual International Maritime Defense Exhibition (IMDEX ASIA), scheduled for May 15-18 at Changi Naval Base. First begun in 1997 in Singapore, the event will host the largest variety of warships in the history of IMDEX, including Australia, Bangladesh, China, France, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom and the United States. The show will host a record 135 exhibitors from 21 countries, with approximately 7,000 trade visitors expected to participate. The Naval Platform Technology Seminar, organized by the RSN, will be held in conjunction with IMDEX this year.