Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Archer is prepped for RSN

In today's papers - The RSS Archer, built by Swedish company Kockums in 1987, underwent upgrading and refurbishing to prepare it for warmer, more corrosive waters around Singapore. It has been fitted with a state-of-the-art Air Independent Propulsion system which allows it to last six weeks at sea - twice as long as the older Challenger-class submarines. Not bad for a second-hand submersible.

At the vessel's launch at the Kariskrona Naval Base in Sweden yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean mentioned that the submarines will operate in concert with six stealth frigates and soon-to-be-delivered naval helicopters. The six stealth frigates were put to the test recently in a two-day exercise (see my post here).

Nuclear-powered submarines have long reigned as kings of the deep, given their ability to operate underwater for extended stretches of time. In 1988, Kockrums installed the world's first Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) into a conventional submarine, extending the underwater operating range from a few days to several weeks.

The AIP's effectiveness was highlighted in December 2005, when the HMS Gotland, which was made by Kockrums, managed to snap several pictures of the US aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan during an exercise. This indicated a successful "strike" as the Gotland could not be detected because its AIP systems are "practically vibration-free, silent and wakeless", making detection difficult due to its low infrared signature.

RSN personnel at work inside the RSS Archer - at least we know that there won't be any obese personnel for sure in that crammed space. The 60.5m diesel-electric submarine with a crew of 28, will undergo sea trials between now and its arrival in Singapore late next year.

A look inside the four-bed bunk shared by eight crew members. It must take a certain kind of quality to want to stay enclosed underwater without surfacing for days on end. Put me in a tiny room without a window and I'll break for sure - ha! ha!

The RSS Archer has two toilet cubicles and one shower on board for its 28-member crew. And you thought the toilet space on planes were bad. At least some people have been known to share a toilet cubicle on airplanes. They belong to the Mile High Club :)

The text that accompanied the article. Just click on it to read it.

Military analysts say the launch of RSS Archer cranks up the U-boat race in this region: Malaysia took delivery of the first of its two French-built submarines in January and Thailand is looking into acquiring its own submarines too.

Up next: RSS Archer - Silent Hunter

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