DPM Teo Chee Hean at the launching ceremony of the second Littoral Mission Vessel on 16 April 2016

16 April 2016

Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and Mrs Ng,
Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman,
Chief of Navy Rear Admiral Lai Chung Han,
Chairman of ST Engineering Mr Kwa Chong Seng,
President and CEO (Designate) of ST Engineering Mr Vincent Chong,
Ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great pleasure to see many familiar faces here today. My wife and I are very honoured to be here today to launch the second Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV), Sovereignty.

We are particularly happy to see so many familiar faces from the big Navy family. We have some Navy pioneers here today with us. MAJ(Ret) Richard Teo, who was the first Commanding Officer of the Patrol Craft RSS Sovereignty, is also here.

From the first modern Patrol Craft for our Navy in the 1970s, to the Patrol Vessel of the 2000s, the name Sovereignty has a long and distinguished history in the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) – protecting our territorial integrity, our waters and our Sea Lines of Communication.

The name Sovereignty also has deep personal meaning for me, as I had gone to sea with the first RSS Sovereignty as a young naval officer in the 1970s. That Patrol Craft, a ‘B’ Class Patrol Craft, at just 33 metres and 150 tonnes, was much smaller than the LMV we are launching today. But for its time, it had a remarkably advanced and formidable sensor and weapon suite – the WM26 was the Navy’s first computerised radar fire control system, and the 76mm Bofors gun that it carried packed a considerable punch, which the whole crew could feel every time the gun was fired. The bridge was completely open to the elements.  A dedicated and hardy crew was required to sail and fight the ship, especially in rough seas or on long deployments.  

I also had the privilege of being involved in shaping the programme for the Fearless-class Patrol Vessels, which the ship we launch today will replace. It is thus especially meaningful for me to be here at the launch of the new LMV, Sovereignty, version 3.0 today.

Fundamentals of Maritime Security Remain the Same though Landscape is Increasingly Complex

The fundamental factors of Singapore’s location and geo-strategic realities have not changed. The seas have always been our lifeline, and will continue to be so. Singapore is among the world’s leading seaports, and sits astride one of the world’s busiest waterways, with more than 1,000 vessels passing through the Singapore Strait every day.

But our geo-strategic location and the large volume of maritime traffic are also a source of vulnerability for Singapore. The surrounding seas in our region are the focus of contest between countries near and far who seek to influence and control the use of the seas for trade and for navigation, and for their resources. The security of sea lines and our port is affected by piracy, sea robberies, and the emergent threat of transnational maritime terrorism. 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 RSN and its national maritime security partners conduct round-the-clock operations, to protect our territorial integrity, counter piracy and respond to maritime contingencies. To deal with the increasing range and complexity of seaborne threats, our maritime security forces have to work very closely together, making the most effective use of the resources and manpower that we have.

The LMV’s Role in Our Maritime Force

Many innovations, as well as improvements in integration and design, enable the LMVs to deliver significantly enhanced capabilities compared to the patrol vessels that they replace, while requiring less manpower to operate. Indeed, the eight LMVs will now do the work that previously required our 11 current patrol vessels. Each LMV will require at least 10 per cent less manpower compared to the patrol vessels. And when you look at the 11 vessels that we currently have and we compare them to the eight, that saving in manpower is even greater. With its integrated sensors and weapons, as well as advanced C4 systems, the LMV will be more efficient and effective vessels that enhance our ability to detect and respond to current and future maritime threats. This is made possible only with the introduction of smart technologies and more streamlined work processes, increased automation with sense-making and sensor systems.

The LMV will be an integral part of RSN Task Groups and will be able to support a full range of SAF missions well. The longer endurance of the LMV, and its systems which are designed for reliability and maintainability, will allow it to conduct operations that are more persistent, at longer ranges, over a longer distance.

The LMVs are also designed with an integrated bridge, combat information centre and machinery control room. This greatly enhances the crew’s shared awareness, and enables them to sense and react faster to maritime security threats in a cluttered littoral environment.

A large mission-configurable space, and the ability to operate modular capabilities such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and a medium-lift helicopter, give the LMV a high degree of mission flexibility and also future-proofs the ship. This is vital in the complex maritime security landscape as it means that the LMVs can be configured to meet a wide spectrum of operations. 

These innovations and capabilities were made possible through the hard work of our partners in the defence technology community, including Defence Science and Technology Agency and ST Engineering.

Continuing the Fine Tradition of the RSN

Defence and security provide the cornerstone of our independence and sovereignty, and the foundation upon which we build our stability and prosperity. Only when we are able to defend ourselves can we decide our own path and build our own future.

Our LMVs make use of new technology to give us a significantly more capable platform. But beyond the capabilities of our hardware, our true strength lies in our “heart”-ware and our people. We must be prepared to stand together, and overcome adversities to emerge victorious from every challenge.

To the commanding officer and crew of the LMV Sovereignty: Continue the fine tradition of your predecessors. Dedicate yourselves to protecting Singapore’s sovereignty and safeguarding Singapore’s security.

I wish you fair winds and following seas. Thank you.