MHC Bedok Mine Countermeasures Vessel (MCMV)
The Coastal Command (COSCOM) of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), established in 1988, is responsible for maintaining the security of the Singapore Straits. Ensuring the safety of our sea lines of communications (SLOC) and territorial waters is important for the country's economic growth and stability. COSCOM has four "Bedok" class Mine Countermeasure Vessels (MCMVs), and a diving support vessel under the 194 Squadron, and six new "Fearless" class Patrol Vessels (PVs) under the 182 Squadron. COSCOM also operates 12 inshore patrol boats which help to ensure the security of Singapore waters.
Much of Singapore's trade, past and present, depends on the vital sea lanes that run through the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. In wartime, the presence of underwater mines and other explosive devices could sever the sea lines of communications and pose a serious threat to ships which ultimately would affect the economic livelihood of Singapore.
One of the oldest weapons in maritime warfare, the underwater mine has evolved over time to become more sophisticated and lethal. Its destructive powers were seen not only in both world wars but also in conflicts such as the Vietnam War, the Falklands war and the first Gulf War (two American ships, the USS Tripoli and USS Princeton, were damaged by Iraqi mines). The traditional method of minesweeping has also changed to that of minehunting, where technology is employed to actively seek out and destroy the mines. This is where modern minehunters play a crucial role in ensuring that our waters are free of such dangers.
The earliest minesweepers in the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) were two Bluebird-class minesweepers purchased from the United States Navy in 1975. Formerly known as USS Thrasher and USS Whippoorwill, they were renamed RSS Mercury and RSS Jupiter. After serving faithfully in the RSN, RSS Jupiter was scrapped on 15 August 1986 and RSS Mercury was decommissioned on 31 March 1993. The need for modern minehunting vessels saw Singapore entering into an agreement with Sweden in 1991 to purchase four new minehunters - the Landsort-class Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMVs).
It was therefore a proud day on 7 Oct 1995 for the RSN when the commissioning ceremony for the four MCMVs - named RSS Bedok, RSS Kallang, RSS Katong and RSS Punggol - took place at Tuas Naval Base. The then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Dr Tony Tan was the guest of honour. The MCMVs now form 194 Squadron which is part of RSN's Coastal Command (COSCOM). With the incorporation of the MCMVs into its fleet, the operational effectiveness of RSN was greatly enhanced.
The hulls were built in Sweden and with the exception of RSS Bedok, the rest were outfitted in Singapore. This meant that the ships were customised to adjust to the Singapore waters, with regards to its salinity, temperature and types of seabeds. The outfitting work was done by the Singapore Shipbuilding and Engineering (now ST Marine). The first ship, RSS Bedok, was launched and christened by Mrs Yeo Ning Hong in Sweden in June 1993. This was followed by RSS Kallang in January 1994 (Mrs Lee Boon Yang), RSS Katong in April 1994 (Mrs Lim Siong Guan) and RSS Punggol in July 1994 (Mrs Ng Jui Ping). These names were taken from coastal places in Singapore. They had been chosen from 9,000 names and 6,000 entries in the Namehunt competition.
Minehunters like the Landsort-class MCMVs add an extra dimension to an already modern RSN. Measuring 47.5m in length and weighing 360 tonnes, it can travel up to 15 knots and requires a crew complement of 28 officers and men. Most importantly, it is well-equipped to handle the intricate operations of minehunting. For example, the MCMVs are fitted with a Precision Navigation System, an integrated Minehunting Sonar System, a Minehunting Information System and a Mine Disposal System. They also make use of Remotely Operated Mine Disposal Vehicles (ROVs) to disable the mines. The ships are made of Glassfibre Reinforced Plastic (GRP), which enables it to absorb underwater shocks. Its low magnetic and acoustic signatures reduces the possibility of setting off mines.
Minehunting operations not only calls for a high level of training in order to maximise the effectiveness of the technology onboard but also requires a great deal of patience, teamwork and daring. It is of utmost importance that the crew members work closely with one another as one mistake may lead to a disaster. MCMV crews also have to work in tandem with the Naval Diving Unit when it comes to disabling mines. At the same time, they participate regularly in naval exercises with foreign navies, particularly those with Mine Countermeasure (MCM) capabilities. This year would see the tenth anniversary of Exercise Lejon Singa, a MCM exchange program with the Royal Swedish Navy. Such exercises only serve to hone the skills of the MCMV crews further and to ensure that they become an efficient and well-trained unit.
Since its commissioning on 7 Oct 1995, the MCMVs of 194 Squadron has played their role in ensuring that the waters of Singapore are safe from the danger of mines. In doing so, it has also safeguarded the sea lines of communications on which we depend so much on for our prosperity and economic well-being.
RSN's MCMVs are fitted with state-of-the-art sensors and systems to detect and neutralise sea mines to facilitate the safe passage of international shipping. The MCMVs have also participated in several Mine Countermeasure (MCM) operations and exercises with the navies of other countries.
Programs such as the annual EX MERCURY with the United States Navy, LEJON SINGA with the Swedish Navy, and EX HUNTER with the Royal Australian Navy, have provided opportunities for RSN personnel to learn and share their expertise. The RSN was also the first navy invited by the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) to conduct MCM operations to clear World War II mines off Tg Awar Awar, 70 kilometres north-east of Surabaya in February 1997. Two MCMVs, RSS BEDOK and RSS KALLANG, together with two TNI-AL vessels, successfully and neutralised eight buried mines.
The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) are conducting a mine countermeasure (MCM) exercise, code-named Joint MINEX, from 11 to 19 Aug 08. Two RSN mine countermeasure vessels, RSS BEDOK and RSS PUNGGOL, and one TNI-AL minehunter, KRI PULAU RUPAT, are participating in the exercise. They are jointly carrying out MCM operations against a simulated terrorist threat off Pulau Bintan. The exercise, the eleventh in the annual Joint MINEX series, enhances the professionalism and interoperability of the two navies. It also helps to develop friendly ties and mutual understanding among the RSN and TNI-AL personnel.
|Displacement||310 tons / 360 tons (fl)|
|Armament||1/40mm 70-cal. Bofors L70 AA
4/7.62mm machine guns
|Propulsion||4 Saab-Scania DSI-14 diesels; 2 props; 1440 bhp|
|Range||2500 / 12|
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