With countless pairs of eyes watching, Mrs Ivy Ng – wife of Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, strode confidently up a flight of stairs – and stood upright, facing a brand new, gleaming warship docked at the Benoi Shipyard.
Then in a voice full of energy and certainty, she proclaimed, “I name this ship Independence. May God bless her and all who sail on her.”
And in traditional seafaring fashion, she followed up by breaking a bottle of champagne on the ship’s hull. And everyone applauded.
Launch of Singapore’s first Littoral Mission Vessel
At the Singapore Technologies Marine (ST Marine)’s Benoi shipyard, the launch of the Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN) first Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV), named Independence, was taking place. The ship is uniquely Singaporean – having been planned, conceptualised and built in Singapore – to meet the RSN’s requirements.
Independence will now undergo sea trials beginning from next year after its combat systems are installed – and it will eventually be battle-ready by 2017.
And members of the media got a chance to tour Independence soon after she was launched. Though the ship may not have been fully ready, it was still an eye-opening experience to see for myself, the features of this new warship.
Marks a major new milestone in RSN’s efforts
The launch of Independence certainly marks a major new milestone in the RSN’s continued effort to keep Singapore’s seas safe. The new 80-metre long littoral mission vessel can hit top speeds in excess of 27 knots and sail up to 3,500 nautical miles. It is also two and a half times larger than its predecessor and can last up to 14 days at sea.
Thanks to high-technology touch screens and advanced computer systems, the Independence can also function with a 23-man crew, which is fewer than the 30-man crew of the 11 existing Fearless-class patrol vessels which the Independence and other seven LMVs are set to replace.
The ship’s integrated command centre can take in the combat, engineering and navigation teams. So this will ensure faster and more seamless communication and coordination among the sailors.
Said Dr Ng, the Minister for Defence, “To launch a ship with all these capabilities after 29 months is an achievement to be proud of. But RSN’s voyage continues with the other seven LMVs and beyond. But I am confident that the RSN will continue to push forward to keep our seas safe and secure, as we look beyond the horizons.”
Total of eight LMVs to be launched
In all, there will be a total of eight new LMV ships to be launched by 2020, and they will be replacing the 11 operational Fearless-class patrol vessels, which have served the RSN for the past 20 years.
Said Dr Ng, “The launch of the new LMVs continue the remarkable voyage that RSN first embarked on with two wooden hull boats – the RSS Panglima and the RSS Bedok, 50 years ago.”
The Minister continued, “And along the way, the RSN has encountered many storms and rough seas. But today, the RSN is respected by its peers as a modern professional Navy, with its full suite of surface, sub-surface and anti-air capabilities. Like Singapore, the RSN has come a long way and it is through their fervent belief in their mission, that today, we are able to stand together here amid the peace and security of our surrounding seas.”