Thursday, June 18, 2009

Silent Hunter

More pictures were made available today of the RSS Archer (Republic of Singapore Navy's newest submarine - see previous post) plus more details as well. There's a schematic of the sub's layout showing where the control room is as well as the bridge when the boat berths, surfaces or "snorts".

The Propulsion Room houses the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system - a revolutionary system that is almost vibration-free, silent and wakeless (not sleep more, hence wake less but meaning leaving no trail), making it difficult to be detected underwater.

The nerve centre of the sub or Control Room has personnel seated shoulder to shoulder in a 8m by 6m room to man the consoles - better pray the guy next to you has no BO (Body Ordour).

Accommodation consists of 4 bunks with 4 double-deck beds in each bunk about the size of a small van (2m by 2m). Two men share each bed, taking turns to sleep, hence the term "hot bunking". Don't envy their jobs at all.

Some simple graphics showing how a sub identifies its target, acquires and destroys it. The RSS Archer has nine torpedo tubes, compared with four in the older Challenger-class subs which it is replacing. The article mentions that the torpedo room is one of the coldest places within the U-boat, with temperatures as low as 6 deg C.

Within the sub, the 28 crew members work quietly, move quietly and live quietly. That means I'll be disqualified because I snore really LOUD - ha! ha! The crew must also be able to surface the vessel in five minutes flat in the event of a leak. A leak the size of a 20-cent coin can sink the submarine!

Dining is also a tight fit. Passageways are only 1.5 times the width of an average person. The silence required on board also affects the way the chef cooks: No deep-frying food because of the sizzle, he can only bake, steam and boil.

This latest RSN submarine is due back in Singapore next year after sea trials.

These latest submarines are definitely a far cry from the original U-boats used during World War II. Dragon had released a 1/6 scale 12-inch U-boat Kapitänleutnant "Herbert" of the Kriegsmarine (German War Navy) in 2001 (pictures here) as well as a 1/6 12-inch Harrison Ford as Captain Alexei Vostrikov from the movie "K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)", the Russian nuclear submarine K-19 that was on patrol when its cooling system malfunctioned (link here for pictures).

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