The Littoral Mission Vessels (LMVs), built to replace the Fearless-class Patrol Vessels (PV), are ‘uniquely Singaporean’, with its design jointly conceived by the DSTA-RSN project team.
Collaborating with industry partners including Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering, the multi-disciplinary DSTA team delivered the LMVs which are smarter, faster, and mission-flexible ships, with increased capabilities and endurance to undertake a wider spectrum of operations. Despite being bigger, faster and more complex than its predecessors, the LMV operates with fewer crew.
2018 marked the LMVs’ achievement of interoperability with the RSAF’s helicopters, the opening of the LMV Simulator Centre (SIMCEN) RSS Daring and the commissioning of two ships – RSS Justice and RSS Indomitable. Three LMVs, namely RSS Independence, RSS Sovereignty and RSS Unity, were commissioned in 2017.
The two latest additions to the RSN bring the total number of commissioned LMVs to five. The three remaining ships – Fortitude, Dauntless and Fearless – are undergoing harbour and sea trials.
DSTA collaborated with the RSN and the RSAF to interoperate helicopters on the LMVs to augment search-and-rescue operations. Engineering assessments were led by the DSTA team to ensure the safe conduct of helicopter operations on the LMV, which features the most compact helideck in the RSN to date.
To augment training realism, DSTA designed the SIMCEN to replicate the experiences crew would encounter at sea, through a 360-degree projected environment. It leverages simulation technologies and virtual reality to put crew through challenging and realistic training, and allows integrated training in combat, navigation and technical skills while employing analytics to track and evaluate crew performance. Since its launch in September 2018, training time for the LMV crew has been reduced by up to 60%.
OPTIMISATION IN DESIGN
To optimise manpower required to operate the LMV for maritime security operations, DSTA integrated and co-located the three distinct control areas, namely the Bridge, Combat Information Centre and Machinery Control Room into a single location – the Integrated Command Centre. To support the viability of this concept, the DSTA Analytical Laboratory was set up. The use of modelling and simulation technologies enabled the RSN to operate in a realistic virtual environment and provided an immersive experience to validate the LMV’s new operating concepts.
The Combat Management System (CMS), which was developed in-house by DSTA, is an advanced command and control system that harnesses automation, and integrates the sensors and weapons on board. It provides decision support engines to the commanders, with options and recommendations to deal with a wide spectrum of threats, to shorten the decision-making process. For example, the Threat Evaluation and Weapon Assignment engine in the CMS automatically determines the threat level of targets and assigns the most suitable weapon for engagement.
The ‘Design for Support’ approach was also incorporated upfront to deliver a LMV that is easy to manage, operate, maintain and train. DSTA implemented the stacked-mast, a first-of-its-kind for the RSN. The stacked mast maximises sensor coverage while providing an enclosed environment for the equipment, thereby improving equipment and system reliability. The ease of access to the equipment allows maintenance to be carried out more efficiently without the need for erecting external staging, compared to traditional open mast designs.
With DSTA’s efforts to synergise automation and design innovation, as well as exploit technologies to realise new frontiers, the LMV programme marked a significant milestone to boost Singapore’s maritime security. The strong collaborative spirit between DSTA, the RSN and ST Engineering enabled an efficient LMV design to be realised – one that is simple to operate and requires reduced resources over its lifespan.
The LMVs have demonstrated their operational readiness as Singapore’s littoral protectors during the historic North Korea-United States summit in June 2018, and the 33rd ASEAN Summit in November 2018. The LMVs also conduct routine patrols to secure Singapore’s territorial waters. Beyond their maritime security roles, the LMVs play a key role in strengthening interoperability with other navies, with RSS Independence, RSS Sovereignty and RSS Unity proving their mettle at regional exercises with the Indonesian, Thai and Indian Navies in 2018.
Note: Oto Melara has been renamed Leonardo as of 2016.
Image source: MINDEF