On March 18, the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) launched the fourth of its eight new, locally-made littoral warships as part of its ongoing transformation to secure the city-state’s surrounding waters.
As I’ve mentioned previously, the RSN, which turns 50 this May, is undergoing a modernization of its capabilities to help it better confront future challenges, particularly in the maritime domain. As part of this effort, the city-state’s 11 existing Fearless-class patrol vessels, which have been in service for 20 years, are being replaced by eight new, locally-built littoral mission vessels (LMVs).
The LMVs constitute a marked improvement over their predecessors, with greater endurance and speed; wider flexibility and versatility to deal with a wide spectrum of challenges; better centralization; and more sophisticated decision support systems that allow for a much leaner crew (See: “What Do We Know About Singapore’s New Warship?”).The LMVs are to be introduced gradually over the next few years, with all of them expected to be fully operational by 2020.
Over the weekend, the launching ceremony for the fourth LMV, dubbed Justice, was held at the Singapore Technologies Marine’s (ST Marine) Benoi shipyard and was officiated by Senior Minister for Defense Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, with other senior navy officials also present. In his speech at the ceremony, Maliki said the LMV project was just the latest sign of the RSN’s transformation into a full-spectrum and highly capable naval force from its humble beginnings fifty years ago.
He also emphasized the importance of looking ahead amid rising challenges in the maritime domain. Given that the Singapore Strait is a vital artery for commercial shipping and the city-state’s economic livelihood, Maliki said that transnational threats like piracy, terrorism, and trafficking, in addition to tensions over contested regional waters, meant that there was “much more at stake” for Singapore.
In a statement, Singapore’s defense ministry (MINDEF) said that the LMV project was progressing well. Justice is expected to be fully operational by 2018, and all eight LMVs by 2020 as scheduled. Meanwhile, the first three LMVs – Independence, Sovereignty, and Unity – are undergoing sea trials, and Independence will be commissioned during the RSN’s Golden Jubilee on May 5.