The Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN’s) ‘Independence’ class corvette programme is well underway and on schedule, according to the vessels’ shipbuilder, ST Marine. As announced in late September, the RSS Independence, the country’s lead ship in the programme is on track to be commissioned in May 2017.
On 30 September during a sail out aboard RSS Independence, the head of the programme, Lieutenant Colonel Chew Chun-Chau, told the media that additional testing of the vessel’s Combat Management System (CMS) and mission systems will be performed over the following months leading up to its scheduled commissioning in May 2017.
The platform is the first of an eight-vessel deal announced in January 2013 and signed between Singapore’s government and ST Marine. Singapore’s LMV were designed by Saab and ST Marine and were ordered to replace the eleven ‘Fearless’ class offshore patrol vessels in service with the RSN since the mid-1990s.
The 1250 tonne ‘Independence’ class vessels have a total length of 80 metres/m (262 feet/ft), with a twelve-metre (39ft) beam and a draught of three metres (9.8ft). Each ship is powered by two MTU 20V 4000 M93 engines and can attain top speeds in excess of 27 knots (68 kilometres-per-hour), and a standard range of 3500 nautical miles (6482 kilometres) at 15 knots (54km/h). Designed to accommodate a crew of 23, including five officers, the ships have a mission endurance of up to 14 days.
In terms of offensive capabilities, the vessel’s weaponry consists in one OTO Melara/Leonardo 76/62 Super Rapid main gun, two Hitrole 12.7 mm remote-controlled weapon stations from the same company, and one Rafael Advanced Defence Systems’ 25mm Typhoon stabilised naval gun system, placed at the rear of the bridge. The first, second and third ‘Independence’ class ships; RSS Independence, RSS Sovereignty and RSS Unity were launched in July 2015, April and October respectively. RSS Independence has since been put through a series of tests and sea trials and will be handed over to the RSN’s Maritime Security Task Force’s 182 Squadron on 26 May 2017. The keel on the RSN’s fourth ‘Independence’ class vessel, RSS Justice, was laid in May 2016, and the vessel is currently under construction. All eight vessels are scheduled to be fully operational by 2020.