Singapore Navy Gets New Submarine; First of Two Vessels Will Reach Region in 2010
By WENDELL MINNICK TAIPEI — The Republic of Singapore Navy received its first of two Archer-class attack submarines, equipped with air independent propulsion, during a June 16 launch ceremony in Sweden.
The former Swedish Vaastergotland-class subs were ordered in 2005. The Archer will undergo sea trials before arriving in Singapore sometime in 2010. The second, the RSS Swordsman, is expected to be delivered in 2011. The submarines were built in the 1980s.
During the launch ceremony, Teo Chee Hean, deputy prime minister and minister for defense, said the new submarines were needed to “secure the seaward defense of Singapore and to protect our sea lines of communication.”
“The Archer-class submarines integrated with our six stealth [Formidable-class] frigates, and soon to be delivered naval helicopters, will allow the Navy to undertake more complex and sophisticated operations to help maintain regional peace and stability, and secure the vital sea routes through our region,” he said.
Singapore acquired four Kockums-built ex-Sjöormen-class attack submarines, now the Challenger class, from Sweden in the late 1990s. These were built during the late 1960s. In the 1990s, Singapore also acquired four 310-ton Swedish-built Bedok-class minehunters.
The newest additions, originally designed for the colder Baltic Sea, had to be equipped to handle Singapore’s warmer climate. Singapore’s Defense Science and Technology Agency participated in the modifications, including advanced combat and sensor systems.
“The Archer-class submarines are equipped with an Air Independent Propulsion [AIP] system, which enables the submarines to have longer submerged endurance and lower noise signature. This enhances the submarines’ stealth capability,” said a Singapore Ministry of Defense news release.
“This is the first time, I think, that the Singaporeans have admitted to having these subs retrofitted with Stirling AIP engines,” said Richard Bitzinger, a former CIA analyst now with the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore.
“These ships were built for the Swedish Navy, but they originally did not have the Stirling engine. Therefore, when they prepared them for the Singaporean Navy they must have done a retrofit, which entails cutting the hull in half and inserting a tube with the AIP.”
Singapore is not the only navy in the region getting new submarines. Malaysia took delivery in January of the KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first of two Scorpene submarines ordered in 2002. The second, the KD Tun Razak, is due for delivery at the end of this year.
The Singapore Navy will host the Asia-Pacific Submarine Conference (APSC) 2009 from June 22 to 24. About 50 participants from 18 submarine-operating navies, along with NATO representatives, will participate.
There will be a tour of the Navy’s new submarine support and rescue vessel, the Swift Rescue, and the new submarine rescue vehicle Deep Search and Rescue-6, at Changi Naval Base.