There were at least three Victory-class corvettes on show at the Changi Naval Base Open House – RSS Vigilance (90), RSS Valiant (91) and RSS Vengeance (93). These are neat little corvettes with extremely impressive masts. I remarked to madam as we wandered around that from a distance it almost looked like battleships with such big masts ((and no, I had not had any beer at that point, this was during my beer free period but it was hot)).
The Victory-class missile corvettes are multi-purpose ships based on the MGB 62 design by Germany’s Lürssen shipyard for the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN). The six ships were commissioned between 1990 and 1991 and form the 188 Squadron of the Republic of Singapore Navy.
Towards the end of the 1970s Singapore was looking to take more of a regional role, in particular as by this stage its economy was being based more and more on sea trade – containers in and containers out. It was necessary to be able to extend protection over a greater area than in the past.
This resulted in an expansion program and as part of that expansion programme, the Republic of Singapore Navy ordered a squadron of missile corvettes from Fredrich Lürssen Werft in 1983. The first of the corvettes, RSS Victory (88), was built and launched in Germany while the remaining five were built locally by Singapore Shipbuilding & Engineering. The corvettes were initially equipped with sonar and torpedoes and were therefore the first class of ships in the RSN to have anti-submarine capabilities.
Two sets of 8-cell Barak I launchers were fitted to the vessels in 1996 with a second fire control radar on the platform aft of the mast and an optronic director on the bridge roof. Rudder roll stabilisation was also retrofitted to improve sea-keeping qualities.
As the vessels left the teenager years and approached 20, the RSN announced that the corvettes would undergo a Life Extension Programme. On 23 August 2011, the upgraded RSS Valiant conducted a live-firing exercise of its Barak missile, while on Exercise CARAT (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) with the United States Pacific Fleet and several other member nations of ASEAN in South-east Asia. From the ASEAN side, the navies of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand participated in CARAT 2011
In 2012 RSS Valiant was the first of the Victory-class corvettes to be upgraded with a single ScanEagle UAV.
Service life for these vessels has been extended and I must admit, they are neat looking vessels (and from a painter and modeller’s perspective, definitely a darker grey than the Formidable-class frigates).
8 June 1988
18 August 1990
10 December 1988
18 August 1990
27 April 1989
18 August 1990
22 July 1989
25 May 1991
1 December 1989
25 May 1991
23 December 1990
25 May 1991
The general characteristics of the vessels are outlined below.
595 t (586 long tons; 656 short tons)
62 m (203 ft 5 in)
8.5 m (27 ft 11 in)
2.6 m (8 ft 6 in)
4× Maybach MTU 16 V 538 TB93 high speed diesels coupled to 4× shafts
Total output: 16,900 hp (12,600 kW)
ESM: Elisra SEWS ECM: RAFAEL RAN 1101 Jammer Decoys: 2× Plessey Shield 9-barrelled chaff launchers, 2× twin RAFAEL long range chaff launchers fitted below the bridge wings
Anti-ship: 8× Boeing Harpoon Anti-air: 2× 8-cell VLS for IAI/RAFAEL Barak Anti-submarine: EuroTorp A244/S Mod 1 torpedoes launched from 2 × triple-tubes Main gun: Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid gun Machine guns: 4× CIS 50MG 12.7 mm (0.50 in) HMGs
The open house at Changi Naval Base gave me a chance to see a some of the Republic of Singapore’s stealth frigates – the Formidable-class vessels. They really are a good looking vessel. At berth were RSSs Steadfast, Intrepid and Tenacious.
Singapore has six of these vessels overall and they are the most modern frigates in the South East Asian area.
The vessels are multi-mission derivatives of the French Navy’s La Fayette class frigate. The frigates serve as key information nodes as well as fighting units, and the six ships form the 185 Squadron of the Republic of Singapore Navy.
The class leader, RSS Formidable was launched on 7 January 2004 and commissioned into the Republic’s Navy on 5 May 2007. The rest of the vessels followed over the period February 2008 through to January 2009, being commissioned in two groups.
The main armament of the frigates is Boeing’s Harpoon missiles with the almost ubiquitous OTO Melara 76 mm gun for surface defence.
A S-70B Seahawk multi-mission capable naval helicopter completes the main offensive armament of the vessels in the class. These provide an anti-submarine capability along with an active low frequency towed sonar enabling long range submarine detection and classification. Lightweight torpedoes fired from two B515 triple-tube launchers hidden behind the bulwark along with the same model torpedo carried by the helicopters enable the frigates to engage submarines.
The full armament is, for anti-ship, 8× RGM-84C Harpoon SSM. Anti-air is MBDA Aster 15/30 launched from 4× Sylver A50 8-cell VLS. The torpedoes are EuroTorp A244/S Mod 3 torpedoes launched from both the 2× B515 triple tubes with reloads as well as from the S-70B Seahawk. As mentioned, the main gun is the Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid gun (mounted in a stealth cupola). Also carred are 4× CIS 50MG 12.7 mm (0.50 in) HMG, 2x 25mm Mk38 Mod2 Typhoon Weapon Station Stabilised Gun.
Electronic warfare and decoys include RAFAEL C-PEARL-M with decoys Sagem Défense Sécurité New Generation Dagaie System, 2× forward & 1× aft.
The vessels are capable of 27 knots and have a range of 4,300 nautical miles cruising at 18 knots.
While visiting the Changi Naval Base last Sunday I had the chance to look at a number of units of the Republic of Singapore navy. It was an excellent day out and organised really well.
Both submarine classes in the navy were on display, although the RSS Swordsman was only really seen at a distance.
One thing that strikes you immediately when standing next to them is how small the Challenger-class vessels actually are. Both the Challenger class and the Archer class were designed originally for service in the limited area of the Baltic Sea, off the coast of Sweden.
The Archer class submarines are the newer vessels with the addition of an Air Independent Propulsion system. The Challenger class are older vessels.
Whilst the Challenger class vessels are old (the first hulls are over 40 years old now) their modernisation and use in the Republic of Singapore Navy did give the Singapore Navy an underwater capability in local waters and more importantly, allowed the navy to develop experience in underwater warfare.
The Challenger class vessels are about 50 metres long, have a complement of 23 and are armed with 4× 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes, 2× 400 mm (16 in) torpedo tubes and mines. The sensors and processing systems are FAS.
Given that the vessels are about 50 metres long (compare this to, say, the Collins class vessels of the Royal Australian Navy which are 77 metres long and it becomes apparent that long cruising periods may be quite uncomfortable for the 23 crew). The vessels were designed for coastal work and small sea areas.
The Archer Class is an upgrade of the Västergötland Class diesel-electric submarines which were originally developed for the Swedish Navy. In the Swedish Navy the upgraded Västergötland Class was known as the Södermanland class. The same upgrades made to the Swedish Navy vessels were made to the vessels delivered to Singapore.
The addition to the upgraded propulsion system with the Stirling Air Independent Propulsion system required the submarines be lengthened from their original 48m to around 60m. The submarines (both classes) were modified for tropical use. Tropical waters are considerably warmer than the Baltic so newer air refrigeration units were needed to cool the internal vessel. At the same time, the warmer tropical water with a higher salt concentration than the Baltic has two effects – metalwork corrodes faster and little marine animals and vegetables are more likely to attach to and grow on the hulls.
The two Västergötland Class submarines, HMS Hälsingland and HMS Västergötland, were commissioned into the Swedish Navy during 1987-1988. It was in November 2005 that the Singapore Ministry of Defence placed a contract with Kockums for the supply of two Archer Class (Ex-Västergötland Class) submarines under the Northern Lights programme. The contract also included crew training and logistics support.
The Challenger class vessels were originally commissioned into the Swedish Navy in 1968-69. They were retired from service in the early 1990s and later purchased by Singapore in 1997-2001.
The C4I systems of the Archer class vessels are fitted with command and weapon control system, active and passive sonar, radar, electronic counter measures and an integrated navigation system. The modern sonar system aboard the Archer Class submarines allows the detection of long range objects on or below the surface of the water. I am guessing the C4I systems on the Challenger class have been upgraded to the same standard.