Supremely versatile and highly complex – that’s exactly what the new Invincible-class submarines are!
Our technologists have played a key role in the build-up of Singapore’s submarine capabilities since the 90s, when the Challenger-class and Archer-class were acquired from Sweden and modified to suit Singapore’s tropical climate. With our accumulated experience over the decades, we are now delivering the latest Invincible-class submarines.
Our marks on the Invincible-class submarine are evident throughout its design and capabilities. The submarine is equipped with modern combat systems and more capable sensors, and integrated with advanced automation and sensemaking systems, which include data analytics and decision support engines developed in-house. These give the submarine crew enhanced situational awareness, allowing them to see further and act faster.
The submarine is also fitted with improved mission capabilities such as the air independent propulsion systems based on fuel cell technology. This is not just environmentally friendly, but also enhances the submarine’s stealth and ability to operate underwater significantly longer than its predecessors.
“It can go further – that means having more endurance, better decision support and indigenous sensemaking systems which allow it to be manned by a lean crew, and do a greater variety of missions,” said Director Naval Systems Ong Li Koon, who is also the project’s first programme director.
Way before the first submarine even touched water, our team was already pushing boundaries by using design innovation in its front-end design. This involved customising its design, selection and layout of equipment and crew workstations for improved ergonomics for the Asian physique. The team also harnessed 3D modelling and virtual mock-ups of the Combat Information Centre to validate new workflows, and designed the submarine such that data on its system health and usage could be collected easily for analysis to reduce maintenance efforts.
Programme Director (Naval Systems) Glenn Lee shared: “Being part of the submarine programme team has been both technically challenging and professionally rewarding. There is never a dull day at work, and I’m privileged to work with my teammates who bring their passion and talents to the table every day, so that we can deliver a cutting-edge submarine to the RSN together.”
Since the launch of the first submarine in Kiel, Germany, our team has been working closely with the RSN to conduct rigorous and intensive harbour tests and sea trials. Senior Engineer (Naval Systems) Andy Leong, who was part of the test and trials team, explained that the stringent rigour of the testing enabled them to sieve out technical issues upfront, and work closely with their RSN counterparts and industry experts to resolve them quickly.
He added: “My experience has been very enjoyable. I was able to work with a dedicated international team and contribute in such a niche area, and it gave me a better appreciation of the impact of our work on Singapore’s defence ecosystem. What was even more unforgettable was the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sail in a submarine!”