30 Juni 2015
RSN Special Marine Craft (photo : NDP2015)
The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) has unveiled a new high-speed and stealthy naval interceptor designed to perform a range of missions, including base defence for the service's two naval facilities, force protection, as well as maritime security operations alongside its existing Fearless-class patrol vessels and future Littoral Mission Vessels.
The new interceptor, called the Specialised Marine Craft (SMC), will be officially revealed to the public as part of the military display aimed at showcasing the Singapore Armed Forces' latest capabilities during the country's National Day celebration on 9 August. The SMC replaces the service's Fast Boats, which were retired in 2008.
The Republic of Singapore Navy's Specialised Marine Craft is being shown to the public for the first time since it became operational in 2009. The vessel on parade is visibly less equipped than the model shown in a publicity video, suggesting that this particular example is either a prototype or a newly built hull awaiting further outfitting. (photo : Jane's)
According to specifications provided by the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), the 40-tonne SMC - which is based on an aluminium hullform with a low radar cross section (RCS) design - measures 22 m in length and has a beam of 5.5 m. IHS Jane's understands that the draft of the vessel is approximately 1.2 m.
A screenshot from a publicity video showing the wide, low profile hull form of the new Specialised Marine Craft. The vessel's electro-optical sensor and what is likely to be a navigation radar can be seen mounted on its starboard mast. (photo : Republic of Singapore Navy)
Major Lee Pui Yau, commander of the SMC squadron, told reporters during a media preview event on 27 June that development of the SMC began in 2003 in collaboration with Singapore Technologies (ST) Marine, with the first vessel entering service in 2009 after extensive trials and design refinements in the intervening years.
Maj Lee said the vessel's complement of four comprises a commander, a coxswain, a navigator, and a weapons specialist. He added that the SMC is not designed to embark additional personnel.
The Specialised Marine Craft is armed with a stabilised 12.7 mm Oto Melara Hitrole G remote weapons station, which features a low radar cross section shield design. (photo : Republic of Singapore Navy)
Propulsion is achieved with two Hamilton waterjets, likely the HM series that are designed for marine craft ranging from 17 to 60 m, which enable unfettered operation in shallow waters, while enabling the vessel to attain maximum speeds in excess of 30 kt.
The SMC is armed with a foredeck-mounted stabilised Oto Melara Hitrole G remote weapons station that is equipped with a 12.7 mm FN Herstal M2HB QCB machine gun and complements the stealthy profile of the SMC with its low-RCS shield. According to company literature, the Hitrole G weapon station is capable of engaging surface and aerial targets and has an internal capacity for 400 rds of ammunition. Additional ammunition can be stored under the mount. The company also stated that the Hitrole G is also equipped with a daylight camera, a cooled infrared imager, and a laser rangefinder.
The Specialised Marine Craft is operated by a four-person crew. (photo : Republic of Singapore Navy)
Specifics of the SMC's electronic systems were not disclosed, although MINDEF said the vessel features "advanced sensors" that provide "state-of-the-art surveillance capabilities" as well as a communications suite that enables improved integration with other RSN fleet assets and facilities. However, IHS Jane's understands from Maj Lee that the vessel is equipped with a mast-mounted electro-optical sensor turret as well as a radar system, although he declined to elaborate further on their origins.
According to Maj Lee, the RSN currently operates three vessels with a further five expected to enter service by 2017.