Singapore Acquires A Submarine Squadron

(c) K.B. Sherman, 2002

As the Pacific Rim becomes ever more crowded with the ships and interests of many nations, Singapore has taken steps to substantially upgrade its navy. A converted Swedish sub recently joined the Republic of Singapore Navy following a refit performed by Kockums AB (Malmo, Sweden), according to a statement from the city-state’s Ministry of Defense. RSS Chieftan was commissioned in an Aug 24 ceremony at Changi Naval Base. The sub joins RSS Conqueror in the 171 Squadron.

Chieftain and Conqueror are former Sjoormen (Sea Serpent)-class boats built by Kockums for the Royal Swedish Navy. Sweden built five Sjoormen-class subs, which carry Terma radar and Plessey Hydra (Hull Mounted) sonar. Though not missile equipped, they do substantially expand Singapore’s sea control capabilities. Extremely quiet while submerged and capable of a submerged dash speed in excess of 16 knots, each carries four 21-inch torpedo bow tubes for the FFV Type 613 torpedo, plus two 15.75-inch stern tubes for FFV Type 431 torpedos. Each sub is 51 meters long, displaces 1,100 metric tons, has a surfaced cruise speed of 10 knots, and carries a crew of 28. The Sjoormen-class was superceded by the Nacken-class in the Swedish Navy beginning in the late 1970s. Currently, the Sjoormen-class is being removed from Sweden’s inventory as the newest, far more capable Gotland-class joins the existing Vastergotland- and Nacken-class submarines of the Swedish Navy. To prepare them for Singapore, Kockums performed refits and converted the diesel-electric subs for use in tropical waters, according to a Kockums statement.

Singapore ordered the first sub in 1995, and then expanded the order in 1997 for three more. The Chieftain was renamed and re-launched by Kockums at Karlskrona, Sweden, in May, 2001. It arrived in Singapore in March, 2002. No dollar value for the deal has been revealed. The remaining two subs are expected to arrive from Sweden by 2004.

As Sweden acquires more Gotland-class subs, it is selling its older subs, including the Sjoormen-class, to other Pacific nations.