01 Juli 2016
RSN is working towards replacing mine-clearing operations with a fully unmanned fleet (photos : RSN)
Singapore navy reveals bold plans
The Ministry of Defence has revealed major ambitions for the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) in coming years.
In a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day interview on 28 June, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen revealed the RSN is working towards replacing mine-clearing operations with a fully unmanned fleet, making it one of the first in the world to do so.
‘I would say this is part aspiration, part delivered,’ he said, citing REMUS autonomous underwater vehicles that are already in service. The RSN has also begun trials of the ST Electronics Venus 16 unmanned surface vehicle for mine countermeasures duties.
This announcement may see the potential retirement of four recently upgraded Bedok-class MCMVs from frontline operations, or their conversion into a USV tender.
The SAF is leveraging technology and unmanned systems to overcome a manpower crunch in the sea service.
Ng also reiterated that the current Endurance-class LST needs to be replaced after nearly 20 years in service.
‘We learned that missions are getting more complex and further afield,’ he said. He has called for a larger ship more capable of projecting and controlling helicopter assets, in the form of a Joint Multi-Mission Ship (JMMS). This is something he first announced in 2014. He added that it is still in the design and conceptualisation phase, with Singapore looking at both off-the-shelf and locally built solutions.
The Independence-class Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV) is on track, and the third hull, Unity, will be launched this year. The lead ship Independence is due to be commissioned in mid-2017.