Victory-class corvette

RSS Vigilence at at the dock awaiting visitors
RSS Vigilance at at the dock awaiting visitors

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.

RSS Valiant at dock
RSS Valiant at dock

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.

Like battleship masts of old - well, they looked like that at a quick glance - RSS Vigilance and RSS Vengance
Like battleship masts of old – well, they looked like that at a quick glance – RSS Vigilance and RSS Vengeance

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).

Name Pennant
Launched Commissioned
RSS Victory 88 8 June 1988 18 August 1990
RSS Valour 89 10 December 1988 18 August 1990
RSS Vigilance 90 27 April 1989 18 August 1990
RSS Valiant 91 22 July 1989 25 May 1991
RSS Vigour 92 1 December 1989 25 May 1991
RSS Vengeance 93 23 December 1990 25 May 1991

The general characteristics of the vessels are outlined below.

Type: Corvette
Displacement: 595 t (586 long tons; 656 short tons)
Length: 62 m (203 ft 5 in)
Beam: 8.5 m (27 ft 11 in)
Draught: 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in)
Propulsion: 4× Maybach MTU 16 V 538 TB93 high speed diesels coupled to 4× shafts
Total output: 16,900 hp (12,600 kW)
Speed: Maximum: 37 kn (69 km/h; 43 mph)
Cruising: 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Range: 4,000 nmi (7,400 km) at 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Complement: 49 with 8 officers
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
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
Armament: 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
Aircraft carried: 1× Boeing ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)



More on HMS Rattlesnake – the figurehead

HMS Rattlesnake Figurehead

After posting the article yesterday on HMS Rattlesnake, HMS Samarang and Port Hamilton I received a comment on my facebook page from Alan (Kaptain Kobold) who is now a Pommie loose in Oz.

Alan used to work at QinetiQ in Farnborough, England. QinetiQ has the figurehead from Rattlesnake in the walkway leading to the canteen in the office.

There are some other photos of the figurehead at Kaptain Kobold’s photo stream on flickr.

Also in the photo stream is a close-up of the rattlesnake on the figurehead.

HMS Rattlesnake FigureheadIn some respects, it is a pity I model ships for wargaming in 1/1200th scale and smaller generally as the scale makes it too small to worry about some of the wonderful detail on old wooden ships. The figurehead was important to vessels built in the 16th to 19th centuries. The practice may have been inherited from the Vikings in earlier centuries with their carved dragon’s heads at the front of their longships although it has also been suggested that as with the stern ornamentation on these old wooden vessels, the purpose of the figurehead may have been to indicate the name of the ship in a non-literate society.

Kaboutermannekes (or water fairies) were believed by some some European sailors (principally German, Belgian and Dutch) to live in the figurehead of a ship. The spirits were supposed to guard the ship from harm. However, if the ship sank, the Kaboutermannekes guided the sailors’ souls to the Land of the Dead. To sink without a Kaboutermanneke condemned the sailor’s soul to haunt the sea forever, so Dutch sailors believed. This is similar to early Viking beliefs.

When the world moved forward to steel ram ships there was really no place for figureheads anymore. However, the practice seems to have been maintained in a different form in modern navies with a ships badge now being a unique identifier of a vessel.

HMAS BombardAs an example, the badge to the left is from one of the Attack class patrol boats of the Royal Australian Navy. It is the badge of HMAS Bombard, one of the patrol boats stationed at HMAS Waterhen in Sydney. A number of the crew were friends of mine at the time so I knew this vessel quite well. She had a number of claims to fame. One was was her circumnavigation of Australia, celebrated with a somewhat ribald t-shirt, and completed on 7 September 1974 under commander, Lieut R. Cook, RAN. This was the first circumnavigation of Australia by a patrol boat.

She was also used in the production of the 1979 ABC series, Patrol Boat ((the IMDB entry for Patrol Boat appears fairly mixed up between the various series as there is no mention of either Andrew McFarlane or Robert Coleby who played the two central characters of the first series)) where her pennant number, 99, was replaced with 83 for filming as she replaced HMAS Advance. After suffering an engine room fire near Point Perpendicular, an RAN Grumman Tracker from HMAS Albatross overflew the Bombard looking for her but saw pennant 83 on the bow so kept looking. I really should write up a short history of the Bombard, an interesting little boat.

I will finish with another view of the figurehead from the Rattlesnake.

HMS Rattlesnake Figurehead

And stop humming that tune about ships named Venus! 😆