SINGAPORE --- The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) launched the first of eight new warships, titled Independence, on Friday (Jul 3).
The new Littoral Mission Vessels (LMVs) – which were designed, planned and built locally – will eventually replace the existing Fearless-class Patrol Vessels, which have been in service for 20 years.
Compared to the Patrol Vessels, these LMVs have various customisable mission modules, including medical containers and unmanned systems, that can be reconfigured to respond to different circumstances and roles from counter-piracy, mine clearing to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
Also of note is the level of automation on board for a ship of its size and function - just 23 men are required to crew at the baseline level, compared to around 30 for the previous generation patrol vessels.
Working with Defence Science and Technology Agency engineers, the RSN has managed to design the ship to require half the maintenance time of the patrol vessels, allowing more time out at sea. It is also fitted with a helicopter deck to extend its reach.
At the launch of the Independence, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said that while the ships are more capable compared to its predecessors - with more automation, intelligent systems, and firepower, "nothing can replace the spirit of the men and women of the RSN in ensuring success for every mission".
"The LMV is not just another new ship, but instead will lead the way in how we use technology to overcome operational demands. That is the ethos of Singapore as we celebrate our Golden Jubilee. How we look at our problems and say 'we can overcome'. Even if we have a reduction of manpower, we will do it. There will be a way that we can find, that we can surmount our challenges and find the spirit which our founding fathers did," Dr Ng said.
He also said that the names for all eight vessels were chosen with the help of many Singaporeans, and reflect the values of the nation's founding fathers and the pioneer generation - Independence, Sovereignty, Unity, Justice, Indomitable, Fortitude, Dauntless and Fearless.
"These are fine names, and I charge the RSN to live up to them," said Dr Ng.