Singapore navy’s first Type 218SG submarine arrives home, local trials to begin

Type 218SG
The first Type 218SG submarine, Impeccable, has arrived in Singapore. (MINDEF)

The first of four Type 218SG Invincible-class diesel-electric submarines (SSKs) procured for the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) has arrived at its home port at Changi Naval Base and will imminently undertake local sea trials ahead of its commissioning, the Singapore Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) announced in late July.

The future RSS Impeccable, the second Type-218SG SSK to be constructed by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) at its facility in Kiel, Germany, was delivered by the heavy-lift transport ship Rolldock Storm to Singapore’s waters in early July, according to observers tracking the delivery of the boat following its loading onto the transport ship in May.

Impeccable is one of four Type 218SG SSKs ordered under two separate contracts announced in 2013 and 2017.

Unlike the RSN’s current submarine fleet comprising two 1960’s-vintage Challenger-class (ex-Sjoorman-class) SSKs acquired from Sweden in the mid-1990s and two Archer-class (ex-Vastergotland-class) boats brought into service in 2011-2013, the Type 218SG submarines are newbuild platforms customized to Singapore’s specific requirements and address its demographic challenges.

For example, the Type 218SG design is claimed by MINDEF to feature high levels of automation, including artificial intelligence (AI)-driven systems. A major consideration behind these features is the manpower challenges facing the service, given that Singapore is facing a shrinking pool of eligible recruits that can serve in the country’s armed forces as a result of its low birth rate.

With these features, the Invincible-class SSKs can be operated with fewer crew when compared with the current Archer and Challenger boats, despite being larger at 70 metres in overall length and displacing 2,200 tonnes when submerged.

Other new features include customised operator consoles that have been designed to suit the Asian ergonomics, tropicalisation for operations in Singapore’s region, as well as an X-shaped stern rudder for enhanced manoeuvrability in shallow littoral waters.

The first-of-class Type 218SG boat, Invincible, was launched in February 2019, while Impeccable was launched in December 2022 alongside the third boat, Illustrious.

Invincible remains in Germany to support the training of RSN submariners, according to MINDEF, adding that the construction of the last two boats is progressing well in Kiel.

by Jr Ng