Littoral Mission Vessel fleet complete & mission-readyAs the Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN’s) fleet of eight Littoral Mission Vessels (LMVs) turn fully operational, we take a look at some of the milestones and special features of these warships.
// Story by Chia Chong Jin
// Photos by PIONEER photographers
1) Full LMV fleet is now operational
The commissioning of the last three vessels - RSS Fortitude, RSS Dauntless and RSS Fearless - at Tuas Naval Base on 31 Jan marked a significant milestone in the RSN's LMV journey which began in 2010.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, Minister for Manpower and 2nd Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo congratulated the RSN on the successful operationalisation of all eight LMVs in just four and a half years since the launch of the first ship.
"The LMVs will play a vital role in strengthening the RSN's ability to defend our everyday... (In a) testament to our people's determination to defend our way of life despite our constraints, the vessels are ingeniously designed to overcome manpower limitations," she added.
2) Smarter, sharper, faster warship
In the past, the Bridge, Combat Information Centre and Machinery Control Room were located in different parts of the PVs. The LMV, however, houses navigation, combat and engineering functions together in an Integrated Command Centre (ICC) for greater synergy and efficiency.
At 80m long, the LMV is about two-and-a-half times larger than the PV but is capable of speeds over 27 knots and can be operated with a leaner crew of 23 (compared to about 30 for its predecessor). It also carries weapons such as the Oto Melara 76mm Gun and Rafael 25mm Typhoon Gun.
3) Greater versatility in operations
The LMV can take on a wide range of maritime security operations and safeguard Singapore's sea lines of communications. Its modular design means it can be quickly configured to support Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations, and is also able to deploy unmanned systems for surveillance and mine countermeasure operations.
4) In active service
Since 2015, the LMVs - such as RSS Independence (pictured above, left) during the 33rd ASEAN Summit in November 2018 - have taken part in a various missions, operations and exercises such as:
- Search And Rescue (SAR) operation for the missing crew of JBB De Rong 19, a dredger that collided with a tanker in Singapore waters in September 2017
- SAR operation for two men who went missing after their sampan (a small flat-bottomed boat) capsized near the waters off Pedra Branca in December 2017
- Exercise APEX, a multi-agency maritime security exercise, in October 2018
- Maritime security operations for the DPRK-US Singapore Summit in June 2018
- Maritime security operations for Singapore's 53rd National Day Parade, held in August 2018
5) A legacy to remember
The Independence-class LMVs have been steadily replacing the ageing Fearless-class Patrol Vessels (PVs) since the commissioning of RSS Independence, the first-of-class LMV, on 5 May 2017 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
The name Independence has a strong legacy: it was the name of a Patrol Craft in the 70s, which kept watch during the Laju ferry hijacking incident, and later used on another a PV in the 90s which saved lives in 2015 when a Malaysia-registered fishing trawler met with an accident near Pedra Branca.
6) Designed and built locally
The LMVs were jointly developed by the RSN and Defence Science and Technology Agency to enable the RSN to operate more efficiently and effectively. Best practices and ideas were thus incorporated into the ship's design from the get-go.
For example, the LMV's mast was designed to house the ship sensors internally to shield them from the harsh maritime environment and provide easier access for maintenance. This design change has halved the workload for maintenance compared to the PVs.
7) What's in a name?
In addition to RSS Fortitude, RSS Dauntless and RSS Fearless, the names of the other LMVs are RSS Independence, RSS Sovereignty, RSS Unity, RSS Justice and RSS Indomitable.
Beyond reflecting the theme of Singapore's nationhood, the names of the LMVs carry the ideals that Singapore's founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and pioneers fought for, as well as the attributes they exemplified.
All eight LMV names were selected from more than 12,000 entries received during the LMV Naming Contest held from 12 Feb to 29 Mar 2015.
8) Did you know there's a "9th LMV"?
Also known as RSS Daring, the LMV Simulation Centre (pictured above) leverages technology to cut training time by 60 per cent.
Located in Tuas Naval Base, the centre houses two LMV simulators which are built to mimic the ICC found on the actual ship, complete with all-round windows and a 360-degree continuous projection screen. This allows crew to hone their navigation, engineering and combat skills - both individually or as a team - in a realistic but safe environment.