Singapore’s Ministry of Defence has announced that it has signed a contract with Germany’s Fassmer to acquire four new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) for the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).
The new ships will replace a similar number of Sentinel-class Maritime Security Response Vessels (MSRV) operated by the RSN’s Maritime Security and Response Flotilla since 2021. The four OPVs will be delivered progressively from 2028 onwards.
The Sentinel-class are former 55-metre Fearless class Patrol Vessels operated by the RSN that have been replaced in service by the Independence-class Littoral Mission Vessels.
The release did not include the contract value of the acquisition and no other details of the ships have been released by the ministry other than that they “are based on a proven OPV design operated by the German Bundespolizei (Federal Police)”.
The ministry added in a press released that the OPVs “are designed with high manoeuvrability to operate in Singapore’s congested waters, and equipped with a suite of lethal and less-lethal capabilities to provide flexibility and calibrated response against a wide spectrum of maritime threats.”
However, the selected design is almost certainly based on the Faasmer 86-metre OPV in service with Bundespolizei as the Potsdam-class. The service operates three such vessels, each fitted with a helideck that can operate a helicopter in the 12-ton class - including the Airbus H215 Super Pumas of the Bundespolizei.
Refuelling facilities for the helicopters are also provided on board, and Fassmer says that the OPVs also have provision for two small boats and spaces for five 20-foot containers. The OPV has a length of 86.2 metres, a beam of 13.4 metres, a crew of 14, and two 4,080kW main engines augmented by two 600 kW electric motors for a top speed of 21 knots.
The Bundespolizei has also equipped its OPVs with the BAE Mk.110 57mm gun that Australia planned to instal on its Arafura-class OPVs, before ultimately deciding against it.
Naval News had previously reported that Singapore’s OPV competition pitted Fassmer against Lurssen and Singapore’s ST Engineering. Construction details of the RSN OPVs remain unclear but Singapore is likely to want to continue its trend of having its naval vessels built and systems integrated locally by ST Engineering.
If confirmed, the selection of an 86-metre OPV to replace the smaller MSRVs also continues the recent trend of Singapore replacing older vessels with significantly larger ships, with the 55m Fearless having been replaced by the 80m LMVs and the 62m Victory-class Missile Corvettes in the process of being replaced by the 137m Multi-Role Combat Vessel based on the Iver Huitfeldt/Absalon frigate designs by Denmark’s Odense Maritime Technology.
It is also a sign that Singapore sees the RSN’s role of defending Singapore’s sea lanes moving beyond its littorals. The waters around Singapore have been the scene of maritime challenges including piracy, transnational crime and territorial disputes.
The small island nation is located on the southern tip of Peninsular Malaysia, next to extremely busy maritime trade routes running the narrow, congested waters from the Straits of Malacca to the South China Sea, and its busy port is a vital component of its economy.