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It's a World's First! – Unmanned Neutralisation of Underwater Threat

05 Feb 21

On 29 Jan 2021, a small underwater explosion occurred in the waters off our Southern Islands. It was barely noticeable, but it was a remarkable event.  

The underwater explosion signified a successful neutralisation of an underwater threat by an unmanned surface vessel (USV) - a first in the world. 

"It was exciting and satisfying to execute the deployment of a K-STER expendable mine disposal system (EMDS) against an underwater threat. After more than three years of development, and numerous rounds of planning and checks, we finally managed to achieve the successful launch and firing of an EMDS from an USV – a breakthrough in the deployment of USVs!" MAJ Lim Yoong Seet, Head of Readiness and Resource Section, 6 Flotilla shared.

Loading the K-STER expendable mine disposal system on to the unmanned surface vessel.

Loading the K-STER expendable mine disposal system on to the unmanned surface vessel.

Working closely with DSTA, the RSN managed to create a new frontier in unmanned operations. Previously, the EMDS were deployed off manned platforms, like our Bedok-Class mine countermeasure vessels. But today, in a first-of-its-kind firing, a remotely controlled USV navigated to the identified location, launched an EMDS which closed in on the underwater threat and neutralised it. 

MAJ Lim monitoring the deployment of the K-STER expendable mine disposal system together with a member of the DSTA project team.

MAJ Lim monitoring the deployment of the K-STER expendable mine disposal system together with a member of the DSTA project team.

The USVs for mine countermeasure operations was first introduced to the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) in 2017. Over the years, the RSN has been experimenting with unmanned systems for maritime security and mine countermeasure operations. It is no easy feat as the Singapore Strait is one of the busiest straits in the world. This is a prudent and necessary step for the RSN to optimise our limited manpower, at lower costs, to enhance our capabilities to safeguard Singapore and protect our vital sea lines of communication.