First Custom-Built Submarine for the Navy
22 Feb 2019

Singapore’s first Invincible-class submarine, Invincible, was launched on 18 February 2019 in Kiel, Germany, marking a significant milestone in the Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN) submarine capability. Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen officiated at the launch ceremony.

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In his speech at the ceremony, Dr Ng said that the new submarines were designed based on experience and expertise garnered through more than two decades of operating submarines. He added that DSTA collaborated closely with the RSN on the submarines’ design, before developing them jointly with German manufacturer, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems.

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The Invincible-class submarines are designed and customised for the RSN’s operations in the shallow and busy tropical waters in our region. As the overall programme manager, DSTA pushed boundaries in the front-end design of the submarines and in the integration of its combat and platform systems.

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Based on their experience from the Challenger and Archer-class submarines, the DSTA team tropicalised the shipboard systems and introduced design innovation and advanced maintenance and engineering concepts. For example, human factor engineering was applied to customise the submarine for RSN submariners. Modelling and simulation studies were also conducted to optimise the design, equipment selection and their layout to reduce maintenance efforts.

To enhance situational awareness and accelerate decision-making, DSTA also incorporated advanced automation and indigenously developed sensemaking systems in the submarine’s combat and platform suites. The team improved the submarine’s endurance by integrating Air Independent Propulsion-based fuel cell technology that allows it to stay submerged about 50% longer.

Prior to the launch ceremony, DSTA and thyssenkrupp Marine Systems signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore new technologies such as additive manufacturing as an innovative, cost-effective method for producing submarine spare parts.

Invincible will undergo a series of sea trials following its launch before being delivered in 2021. At the ceremony, Dr Ng also announced the names of the remaining three submarines – Impeccable, Illustrious, and Inimitable – which are still under construction. The submarines are expected to be delivered from 2021 onwards and will replace the current Challenger and Archer-class submarines.