Singapore Navy moves towards unmanned future

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) revealed it is in the midst of introducing unmanned surface vessels to patrol Singapore’s waters and detect and neutralize mines.

As informed, these vessels will be remotely controlled from shore or other naval platforms at sea.

Unmanned vessels will cut down the manpower required to operate each vessel to just two, according to the navy.

Explaining the role of its manned ships in the future, the RSN said:

“They can be more strategically deployed to take on more complex missions at further reaches from Singapore, allowing us to better pre-empt maritime threats.”

Unmanned surface vessels, unmanned watch towers and smart airbase — drones — are some of the new technologies the Singapore Armed Forces (SAR) intend to introduce in the near future.

“We must harness new technologies, as Dr Teo Ho Pin pointed out, because even if you chose to give us more money in exchange for manpower, we can’t do it. We just don’t have the manpower, we recognised that as an inherent constraint,” Ng Eng Hen, Singapore’s Minister of Defence stressed during his ministry’s Committee of Supply Debate on March 2.

“For surveillance we want to use cameras with smart sensors for automated surveillance. We don’t need so much man-in-the-loop to say this vessel is behaving in a different way from other vessels. And you don’t need manned vessels for some scenarios — unmanned vessels will soon be used for patrols and underwater surveys,” he added.

“All these give us hope that we are moving towards an SAF that is just or even more effective, but uses less manpower,” Ng Eng Hen concluded.

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