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Cutting-edge submarine added to Singapore's arsenal

Publication Date : 01-05-2013


The second of Singapore's most advanced pair of submarines was declared battle-ready yesterday, giving the Republic of Singapore Navy greater punch in its underwater warfare.

The RSS Swordsman was commissioned after 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 is the second Archer-class submarine to be added to the RSN's 171 Squadron, after the RSS Archer was declared operational in 2011. The submarine squadron also comprises four ageing Challenger-class submarines.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who was at the ceremony at Changi Naval Base, said declaring the latest Archer-class submarine operationally ready marks the end of the RSN's eight-year journey to replace some of the Challenger-class vessels built in the 1960s. He said the new submarines will strengthen the navy's ability to safeguard Singapore's "continued and unimpeded access to the maritime routes".

Of the 80 per cent of the world's trade today that is carried by sea, more than half passes through South-east Asia.

But global shipping is at risk of piracy and maritime terrorism, said Tharman, who is also Finance Minister. He added that sea disputes can potentially destabilise the region and "put merchant vessels in harm's way".

To confidently respond to such threats, Singapore has built up a strong defence force through steady and prudent investments, allowing the Republic to make "opportunity buys" like the submarines.

His statement follows Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen's comments in March about the Defence Ministry's plan to replace the Challenger submarines with new ones.

Tharman also thanked the Swedish government, the Royal Swedish Navy and Swedish submarine manufacturer Kockums for helping to make the Archer programme a success.

Also present at yesterday's ceremony were Ng, Transport Minister - and former chief of the navy - Lui Tuck Yew, Defence Chief Ng Chee Meng and navy chief Ng Chee Peng.

RSS Swordsman is fitted with an Air Independent Propulsion system that lets it stay submerged for six weeks without needing to surface periodically to recharge its batteries. This is twice the duration of the older Challenger-class submarines, which makes the RSS Swordsman and RSS Archer stealthier weapons. The Archer-class vessels also have more torpedoes than their older cousins.

Now that both Archer-class vessels are fully operational, they can work alongside the RSN's other warships, like stealth frigates and missile corvettes, to conduct more complex operations.

Swordsman's commanding officer Loh Mun Heng said the submarine will be taking part in more multilateral sea exercises to sharpen its fighting edge.


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