The second of eight new made-in-Singapore warships was launched yesterday, as Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean stressed the importance of a strong Navy to keep the country's maritime borders safe.
With more than 1,000 vessels passing through the Singapore Strait every day, the country sits astride one of the world's busiest waterways, he highlighted.
This also makes it vulnerable.
"The security of sea lines and our port is affected by piracy, sea robberies, and the emergent threat of transnational maritime terrorism," he said.
Explaining that the sea will continue to be part of Singapore's lifeline, he added that "the interruption of sea traffic or a threat coming from the many vessels sailing through these waters will have a serious impact on us here in Singapore".
The latest addition to Singapore's Navy is a littoral mission vessel (LMV) called Sovereignty.
DPM Teo said LMVs are faster and more versatile, boosting the Navy's effectiveness.
At 80m long, the new ship is 21/2 times bigger than the Fearless-class patrol vessel it will replace.
It can also sail further and faster - hitting top speeds in excess of 27 knots and sailing up to 3,500 nautical miles. Powered by four engines, it can last 14 days at sea.
The new vessel's integrated command centre combines the combat, engineering and navigation teams, allowing faster and seamless coordination among sailors.
"The ability to build and design our own ships with a lot of indigenous technology indicates the importance of engineering for Singapore," said DPM Teo.
He added that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will also have to work well with the Home Team and other maritime agencies, such as the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, to ensure seamless operations in defending the country's maritime entryways.
For security and defence needs, DPM Teo said, Singapore has to ensure it is more effective and efficient in its use of manpower, with the help of technology as there are fewer and better-educated servicemen in the SAF and Home Team.
Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen and Senior Minister of State for Defence Maliki Osman also witnessed the launch of Sovereignty at Singapore Technologies Marine's Benoi Yard in the west of the island.
Sovereignty is expected to be operationally ready by next year, after it installs combat systems and undergoes sea trials. The first warship, LMV Independence, which was launched in July last year, is going through sea trials now and is expected to be battle-ready by next year. The other ships are expected to be operational by 2020.
The eight warships will do the work previously done by 11 patrol vessels, which have been in service for about 20 years. The new ships will result in a manpower saving of at least 10 per cent.
The new warships are the first to be entirely designed and built here since the first Endurance-class Landing Ship Tank was launched in 1998.
This article was first published on April 17, 2016.
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