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Conqueror, arrived in Singapore. Over the next
few months her crew gained valuable experience
operating in the congested shipping lanes and
shallow waters of the South China Sea, which present
very difficult operating conditions
to even seasoned submariners.
In the following years, the other
three submarines, RSS Centurion,
Chieftain and Challenger, arrived
in Singapore, together with their
CHALLENGER CLASS SUBMARINES
Singapore operates four 1,210 ton Challenger Class
submarines. The boats are 51 metres in length and
have a beam of 6.1 metres with a complement of
22. This includes the Commanding Officer, six other
officers, and 15 crew. The boat has a reported
maximum operating depth of 150 metres. The boats
are fitted with four Hedemora/Pielstick V12s that
are used to charge standard lead acid cell batteries.
They have an ASEA electric motor which delivers
a top speed of approximately 16 knots. It has ‘X’
configuration (as opposed to ‘+’ configuration) after
control surfaces and sail planes.
The combat system is centered
on the UDS SUBTICs command
and control system,
integrates data from a Thales flank
array and S-Cube based sonar
suite. Kollmorgen Electro Optical
model 76 and 90 periscopes, which
includes an infra-red capability, have
been fitted to the submarines.
The Challengers have four 533
mm tubes for launching a maximum
load of 10 electrically driven wire guided WASS Black
Shark or high speed (60 knot) hydrogen peroxide
driven SAAB TP 613 heavyweight torpedoes. They
also have two 400 mm stern tubes designed to
launch a maximum of four electrically driven tri-speed
wire guided Type 431 lightweight anti-submarine
torpedoes. All tubes are fitted with positive discharge,
but they are also capable of swim out. Mines can be
fired from the tubes, replacing torpedoes on a two
for one basis.
Other changes were made to meet Singapore’s
needs. Singapore’s Defence Science and technology
Agency (DSTA) worked extensively with Kockums
on this project, although the details have not been
By 2002, the submarine force had gained
considerable experience and operational acumen.
That year RSS Chieftain, the fourth boat, pitted herself
against the USS Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group,
as part of a series of regular USN-RSN Passage
Exercises. After being given a brief intelligence
update before she sailed, the submarine managed to
steal past the helicopters, frigates and destroyers in
the battle groups ASW screen and shoot a (virtual)
torpedo at the carrier.
As a stepping stone to a final destination, the
Challenger program had served its purpose and
was a complete success. Following from it, in
November 2005 the Defence Minister revealed that
two ex-Swedish Navy Vastergotland class boats
would be purchased, a relatively short notice
opportunity to advance the force. Both boats were to
be modernised and equipped with Air Independent
Propulsion (AIP) systems before being transferred to
the RSN. Because an equivalent refit incorporating
AIP had already been conducted in the remaining pair
of the class in Swedish hands and the lead Swedish
unit was at sea, MINDEF and the RSN were avoiding
many of the risks associated with parent navy status.
The first Archer class submarine was commissioned
at Changi on 02 December 2011 and the second on
30 April 2013.
ARCHER CLASS SUBMARINES
Singapore operates two 1,500 ton Archer Class
The boats are 60.5 metres in length and have a
beam of 6.1 metres with a ships complement of 28
running a six-hour two-watch system. The Archers
are fitted with two Hedemora diesels, two Mk 3
Stirling AIP Engines fitted in a 12 metre plug for the
submarine and standard lead acid cell batteries.
Additional climatisation capabilities were added to
the Swedish baseline to permit the submarine’s
use in tropical waters. The boats have a Jeumont
Schneider electric motor which delivers a top speed
of approximately 20 knots It also has ‘X’ configuration
after control surfaces.
The combat system is centered on a DSTA and
ST Electronics system with many modules coming
from the DCNS SUBTIC Systems.
The submarine has Thales S-Cube
based sonar system augmented
by a Thales flank array and mine
avoidance sonar. It has Kollmorgen
periscopes. The boat has nine
torpedo tubes; six tubes for WASS
Black Shark or SAAB TP 633 heavyweight torpedoes
and three tubes for FFV Type 431/451 lightweight
torpedoes. Type 47 swim-out mines can also be fired
from the tubes.
The boats have a lock out chamber for the release
of Special Operations Forces.
SUBMARINE OpERAtIONAL StAtUS
During the last 30 years Singapore has been
channeling investment into the establishment of
a strong domestic defence industry base. The
Singapore Technologies (ST) group of companies, of
which the government holds a controlling stake, are
at the centre of the base. The group has developed
the skills and knowledge necessary
to allow Singapore to indigenously
design and develop advanced
weapon systems and upgrade
major naval, air and land platforms.
Research and development has
also been a priority within the
DSO National Laboratories and the
indigenous defence industry.
Looking more specifically at
fundamental inputs to submarine
capability, the RSN is not found wanting.
Research into submarines and undersea
warfare has been occurring for a number of years;
a responsibility entrusted to the RSN’s Naval
Undersea Warfare Centre located at Tuas Naval
Base. Recognition of the need to have a solid
local industrial capability to support the submarines
is evident by the establishment of Fortis Marine
Solutions. Fortis Marine Solutions is a Joint Venture
company established in Singapore by Kockums and
ST Marine, to support the Challenger and Archer
Class submarines. The objective of the joint venture
is to ensure a high level of operational availability for
the submarines. Fortis Marine Solutions is intending
to have a 140 strong workforce.
The RSN has a strong focus on the personnel
aspects of its submarine force. The force draws
upon well-educated and motivated members of the
Navy to fill its ranks. It nurtures and inspires them
In December 2013, Singapore announced it
had signed a contract with Germany’s TKMS
to procure two Type 218SG submarines for
the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).
In May 2000, after comprehensive
reconditioning and adaptation of the boats for
tropical conditions, which involved installing
air conditioning, marine growth protection
systems and corrosion-resistant piping, the
first of the four submarines, RSS Conqueror,
arrived in Singapore.
27/03/14 4:44 PM
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