2 new war­ships to en­hance navy’s stand­ing: Eng Hen

S’pore-built Lit­toral Mis­sion Ves­sels re­flect quan­tum jump in ca­pa­bil­i­ties, says min­is­ter

The Straits Times - - TOPOF THE NEWS - Lim Min Zhang

War­ship RSS In­de­pen­dence has be­gun its first over­seas de­ploy­ment since turn­ing op­er­a­tional this May, with two other Lit­toral Mis­sion Ves­sels (LMVs) ready for ac­tion too as the Repub­lic of Sin­ga­pore Navy (RSN) gears up amid grow­ing re­gional chal­lenges.

At a cer­e­mony to com­mis­sion the RSS Unity and RSS Sovereignty yes­ter­day, De­fence Min­is­ter Ng Eng Hen said the two lo­cally built and high-tech war­ships re­flect a “quan­tum jump” in ca­pa­bil­i­ties over the pa­trol ves­sels which they re­place.

More im­por­tantly, when they sail with other navies, the new ships will en­hance the RSN’s pro­fes­sional stand­ing in a re­gion where the “tempo of oper­a­tions and the area of oper­a­tions have ex­panded con­sid­er­ably in the past decade”, he added.

“Go­ing for­ward, the de­mands on our RSN will in­crease. Part of this re­flects both the ris­ing trade, as well as the mil­i­tary build-up of re­gional navies in our sur­round­ing wa­ters,” said Dr Ng, adding that both the South China Sea and Strait of Malacca are key sea lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

He added that seaborne trade in the Malacca Strait has grown steadily ev­ery year, along­side ris­ing recog­ni­tion from non-Asean states such as the United States and China that seas in the re­gion are “crit­i­cal to global trade and se­cu­rity”.

The two LMVs are the lat­est to turn fully op­er­a­tional, with five more ex­pected to do so by 2020.

In all, eight LMVs will re­place 11 Fear­less-class pa­trol ves­sels that have been in ser­vice for more than 20 years.

In his speech, Dr Ng re­vealed that the RSS In­de­pen­dence has been de­ployed in the first Asean Mul­ti­lat­eral Naval Ex­er­cise, which started on Mon­day and will be held un­til Nov 22 off the coast of Thai­land.

Dr Ng said that the LMVs’ so­phis­ti­cated ca­pa­bil­i­ties “are a tan­gi­ble ex­pres­sion of the ad­vances made over three decades by RSN, DSTA (the De­fence Science and Tech­nol­ogy Agency) and ST En­gi­neer­ing”. De­liv­er­ing quicker and greater fire­power than the pa­trol ves­sels and re­quir­ing a smaller crew of just 23 peo­ple, the LMVs have both lethal and non-lethal op­tions to de­liver cal­i­brated re­sponses against var­i­ous threats.

LMVs in other navies typ­i­cally have a 60-man crew, noted Dr Ng dur­ing the cer­e­mony held at the RSS Sin­ga­pura-Changi Naval Base.

On the ship’s ver­sa­til­ity, the RSS Unity’s com­mand­ing of­fi­cer, Lieu­tenant-Colonel Lee Jun Meng, 36, said: “When we wanted to build a ship, we wanted to build one that could meet not just cur­rent re­quire­ments, but even fu­ture re­quire­ments we have not fore­seen.”

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