April 27, 2015

Singapore's Submarine Service - from Sweden to Germany

A Dolphin 2 under construction in Kiel, Germany. Note complex rudder for tight turns in tight spots. Note the hard looking underbody for taking scrapes and sitting on the bottom (of the Malacca Strait)?

Inside view of a Dolphin 2. Might Singapore's 218SGs look like this? 

Singapore has worked closely with Sweden over two decades to build up a relaunched, but efficient, submarine service to meet Singapore's (presumably) short distance needs. Due to a uncharacteristically shortsighted Swedish decision in 1999 to sell its submarine builder to its German competitor this Swedish-Singaporean relationship appears to be gradually drawing to a close.

Singapore is maintaining a fleet of four operational submarines with the retirement of two of its older Challenger class submarines, RSS Challenger and RSS Centurion on March 11, 2015.

Singapore's submarine service now consists of:

RSS Conqueror (Challenger class) launched 1967, relaunched 1999 - in semi-service to 2021? 
- RSS Chieftain (Challenger class) launched 1968, relaunched 2001 - in semi-service to 2022?

- RSS Archer (Archer class
- RSS Swordsman (Archer class)

All four submarines were built by Sweden's Kockums, were formerly in the Swedish Navy and will be replaced by (eventually four) German built TKMS-HDW 218SGs. This Swedish to German change directly followed Sweden's error in selling Kockums to HDW. Kockums was returned too late
 to Swedish (Saab) control in 2014 to avert the loss of new Singaporean business to Germany (TKMS-HDW). 

It remains unclear what the two TKMS-HDW 218SGs, when handed over to Singapore in 2020-2022, will most resemble - 212s, 214s, 216s or Dolphin 2s? The 218s will probably feature fuel-cell AIP and perhaps Lithium-ion batteries permitting an endurance of eleven weeks of which four weeks might be continuously submerged. They may also have a land attack capability and eventually Seal Delivery Vehicles and Large Diameter UUVs for surveillance in the shallows.

To pack all these features in a 218 would suggest a heavier sub than the Archer class (1,400 tonnes  surfaced) perhaps as heavy as the 2,000 tonne (surfaced) Dolphin 2. As the combined price of the 218s is less than US$2 Billion perhaps they are not as radically new as my 2014 prediction of a 3,000 tonne submarine?



Anonymous said...

Dear Pete,
the decision to sell Kockums was not shortsighted at. It was the only way to keep the submarine engineering capacity alive.


Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Keeping submarine engineering capacity and job levels in Kockums may well have been Sweden-Kockums's aim at the time of Kockum's transfer to HDW.

Though by late 2013 Sweden and Kockums would have regretted the circumstances of Kockum's loss of the sale to Singapore - which TKMS-HDW 218SG won.



Autumn Leaf said...

Just thought if you wonder what Type218SG might look like, it would be a hybrid of Type 214 and Type 212; Type 214 hull form, but Type 212 X-rudder stern configuration.

Reference sites:


Peter Coates said...

Hi AL re Singapore's 218SG unveiling.

Thanks for the references. I would say it has most things in common with its stablemate the TKMS HDW Dolphin 2, including:

- fuel cell AIP
- hull structure eg. hull mounted foreplanes
- surfaced displacement of around 2,000 tons
- X-rudder as you say

The 218 is likely to have similar reinforced bottom (as the Dolphin 2) for sitting on the seafloor (important for the 218 in/around Malacca and Singapore Straits).

http://defense-studies.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/type-218sg-of-republic-of-singapore-navy.html mentioning 8 x 533mm torpedo tubes with part job "used for landing troops and deep sea submersible vehicles for special forces." is difficult to accept within 533mm narrowness. The tubes size appears well obscured in photos released.

While 6 tubes may be 533mm one or two of the tubes are likely to be greater diameter (650mm to 1.5m) making it/them better capable of accomodating divers, delivery vehicles and likely future large displacement UUV (LDUUV) use.