Singapore: A Naval Powerhouse in the Making?

Bahauddin Foizee

Key point: Singapore is an important and budding naval power in east Asia.

A tiny yet wealthy city-state, Singapore is a major financial hub of Asia. While this moneyed image has become the mainstream depiction of Singapore, many are unaware of the fact that Singaporean armed forces are active contributors to the security of the region, and in particular its navy has been actively patrolling the regional waters alongside other regional navies against any potential threats, including piracy.

Singapore’s navy, officially known as the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), has been shaped over the years into a maritime force that is highly sophisticated and well-trained. The RSN was even ranked among the top five Asian navies by The National Interest article.

Ambitious Procurement Plans

Singapore intends to build a navy that could protect its territories and economic interest from the potential hostility by any immediate larger neighbors (like Malaysia), and more importantly a navy that could become lethal if combined with other regional and extra-regional navies (like Australia, India, Indonesia and Japan) against a powerful navy (like Chinese navy).

Singapore, therefore, plans to acquire more advanced capabilities for its navy, including renewing its submarine fleet, acquiring new vessels with potential to serve as an aircraft carrier and adding unmanned platforms to its defense machinery.

As part of its submarine force renewal program, the RSN is acquiring four Germany-made Type 218SG submarines. This new submarines will be having far more improved operational and combat capabilities -- and are built to stay submerged about 50% longer -- than those of the existing ones.

It’s worth mentioning here that submarines -- unlike surface warships that have both peacetime and wartime functions -- are built to shoot and destroy targets as well as to conduct surveillance, even surveilling foreign coasts to gather vital intelligence. The very fact that a small city-state like Singapore has submarines in operation and is now renewing its fleet with even more capable submarines -- shows how ambitious the Singaporean navy has become about increasing its naval power.

Read the original article.