Speech by Senior Minister of State for Defence, Mr Heng Chee How, at the Launching Ceremony of the Eighth Littoral Mission Vessel

Speech by Senior Minister of State for Defence, Mr Heng Chee How, at the Launching Ceremony of the Eighth Littoral Mission Vessel

Chief of Navy, Rear-Admiral Lew Chuen Hong,
Director of ST Engineering, Mr. Lim Ah Doo,
President and CEO of ST Engineering, Mr. Vincent Chong,
President of Marine, ST Engineering, Mr. Ng Sing Chan,
Former Chiefs of Navy,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning. 

It is my pleasure to join you here today. My wife and I are delighted to be part of this time-honoured naval tradition to launch the Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV), Fearless.

Today marks a significant milestone for the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), with the launch of the eighth and final LMV, signifying the successful completion of the LMV programme. 

A Maritime Nation

Singapore is a maritime nation and the seas have always been our lifeblood. Singapore sits astride one of the world's busiest waterways, with more than 1,000 vessels passing through the Singapore Strait every day. As a small country with no natural resources, we rely on our sea trade for many of the things that we need in our daily lives. Our maritime trade remains vital for the economy of modern Singapore, contributing 7% to our GDP. As such, our survival and economic prosperity are critically dependent on the seas remaining safe, secure, and open.

The security of our seas must not be taken for granted. The open nature of the seas makes us vulnerable to maritime threats ranging from piracy and sea robberies to terrorist attacks.

The seas are also shared spaces in global commons, and it is critical that all nations who use these commons are guided by international rules and norms. But some have tried to go beyond these international rules and norms to make claims in excess of their rights. As Singapore is surrounded by waters, we must safeguard our access to the seas, and stand firm against such claims. Our access to the seas is set out by international law and is ever so important to our continued security and economic vitality. 

The Navy's Key Role in Safeguarding Our Waters

The navy is every maritime nation's first line of defence. A strong RSN is key to protecting our maritime sovereignty, and keeping our Sea Lines of Communication open. Singapore's maritime agencies work together 24/7 to monitor threats. The RSN augments this by conducting patrols around the clock – tirelessly – to keep our waters safe and secure. We do this to protect Singapore, Singaporeans, and our Singaporean way of life.

A strong RSN is key to this. Our operationally-ready LMVs – five of them – are already performing remarkably well. Like the Fearless-class Patrol Vessels (PVs) they replace, the LMVs are the RSN's work horses. Last June, they successfully guarded Singapore against seaborne threats during the DPRK-US Summit. They ensured the security of the leaders, and showcased Singapore as a competent host. 

Even when no one is watching, our LMVs have lived up to what is expected of them – and more. Critically, the LMVs have shown their utmost readiness to be deployed at short notice to stand up to any threats to our sovereignty, and they have completed their missions ably.

This is possible only with a strong team of highly competent, resilient and committed sailors. The RSN draws strength from our people, who are always ready to defend Singapore when called upon. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the RSN, as well as all other security agencies, for acting professionally and with restraint, even when faced with provocation, in their conduct of operational duties.

Our LMVs a Key Enabler for the RSN

The same spirit of resilience and commitment contributed to the success of the LMV programme, which was only possible with the strong partnership between the SAF, the defence technology community, and our local industry partners. In the relatively short time of nine years, eight LMVs were designed and built from scratch, with five already operationally-ready. The team overcame challenges with tenacity, utilising innovative solutions to bring about a "Uniquely Singapore" LMV that is purpose-built to meet the RSN's demanding operational requirements. 

The LMVs are "modular" and can be quickly configured to conduct a wide range of operations, such as maritime security operations, medical support operations, and unmanned surveillance operations. The LMV, which can be out at sea for longer periods of time, can also be equipped with both lethal and non-lethal options to deliver calibrated responses. These range from long range acoustics devices, water cannon systems, small and large calibre guns, to anti-missile missiles. The LMV leverages technologies to improve operability and optimise manpower use. The user interfaces of the systems on board the LMV incorporate multi-touch and gesture-based technologies which are intuitive to use, in turn allowing the crew to conduct maritime security operations more efficiently and effectively. Harnessing technology allows the LMV to operate with a 20 per cent smaller baseline manning crew compared to a PV. This translates to a crew of 23 sailors manning an 80 metre-long warship. In many established navies, a warship of this size is operated by at least twice the number of sailors. Such lean manning requires our people to be competent and adaptable, as they are trained to take on multiple roles onboard the ship under the pressure of operations. All of these make the LMV a key enabler for the RSN's continued ability to respond effectively to a spectrum of threats, to secure our waters, and our access to waters beyond our shores.  

Acknowledging Key Contributors

On behalf of MINDEF/SAF, I would like to thank the LMV Integrated Project Management team that is spearheaded by Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Chew Chun Chau from the RSN and Ms Tessa Gan from the Defence Science and Technology Agency. They took up the challenge to design the LMV from scratch even when they knew there would be huge obstacles along the way. I would also like to thank our close partner, ST Engineering. They actualised our plans, delivered the LMVs on time, and are a key reason for the smooth completion of the LMV programme. 

All we have achieved today rests on the foundation built from the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice of our pioneers. Joining us today are the ex-crew of RSS Fearless. I would like to thank you for your service and contributions to Singapore and the RSN.

The Fearless Spirit

Over the last 23 years, the Fearless-class PVs have stood vigilant to defend our waters and protect our shipping lanes. Today, Fearless will be reborn into a vessel that is smarter and more capable. 

To the commanding officer and crew of the LMV Fearless: Live up to the fearless spirit of our founding fathers and continue to live out its legacy. As you embark on your next journey to defend our sovereignty, our security, and our economic prosperity, I am confident that you will overcome all challenges fearlessly, never flagging in adversity.

I wish you fair winds and following seas. Congratulations, and thank you.

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