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?