Singapore’s Ministry of Defence confirmed on 31 August that the country’s shipbuilder ST Marine has laid keel for its fourth ‘Independence’ class corvette for the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).
Part of an eight-vessel contract signed in January 2013 between Singapore’s government and ST Marine, the platform was laid on 26 May at ST Marine’s Jurong shipyard. The RSS Independence and RSS Sovereignty, the first and second of the ‘Independence’ class vessels, were launched respectively on July 2015 and April 2016 and all eight platforms are on track to operational by 2020. On 25 January 2016, Singapore shipbuilder ST Marine announced it had laid down the third ‘Independence’ class corvette, which has yet to complete sea trials.
Singapore’s new corvettes were jointly designed by Saab and ST Marine and were ordered to replace the RSN’s aging fleet of eleven ‘Fearless’ class corvettes, in service with the country’s navy since the mid-1990s. The RSN’s new vessels are larger in size than their ‘Fearless’ class predecessors and they are also considerably faster and with an extended range.
With a length of 80metres/m (262 feet/ft), a beam of twelve metres (39ft), and a draught of three metres (nine feet), the 1250-tonne platforms are powered by two MTU 20V 4000 M93 diesel engines, allowing them to attain top speeds of over 27 knots (50 kilometres-per-hour), with a standard range of 3500 nautical miles (6482 kilometres) at 15 knots (27km/h). The LMV can accommodate a crew of 23, including five officers, and is equipped for a mission endurance of 14 days.
In terms of weaponry, the vessel is equipped with one Leonardo/OTO Melara 76/62 Super Rapid main gun, two Leonardo/OTO Melara Hitrole 12.7 mm remote-controlled weapon stations located on each sides of the vessel, and one Rafael Advanced Defence Systems 25mm Typhoon stabilised naval gun system. The ships are also furnished with a twelve-cell vertical launching system capable of firing MBDA’s VL Mica surface-to-air missiles. The vessel can also accommodate one medium-lift helicopter on its flight deck, and has a launch and recovery system for two rigid hull inflatable boats or an unmanned surface vessel at its stern.
The RSN’s new corvettes represent a significant milestone in the country’s continued transformation to keep its maritime territories safe. Faster, more versatile, and equipped with sharper capabilities than their predecessors, according to Singapore’s Ministry of Defense (MINDEF), the new vessels can be quickly configured to take on a wide rang of operations, from counter-piracy to disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. They will serve to further fortify the RSN’s efficiency in maritime defence and in the protection of Singapore’s sea lines of communication.