The unveiling of the Inimitable solidifies Singapore’s submarine defence technology, marking a milestone in naval capabilities, in collaboration with Germany.

In partnership with Germany’s thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, Singapore reached a moment in its naval defence programme with the launch of its fourth submarine, named Inimitable. The ceremony, held at the thyssenkrupp Marine Systems shipyard in Kiel on 22 April 2024, was attended by dignitaries that include Boris Pistorius, Federal Minister of Defence; and Teo Chee Hean, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security of the Republic of Singapore.

The Inimitable joins its predecessors, the Invincible, launched in 2019, and the Impeccable and Illustrious launched in December 2022, further bolstering Singapore’s maritime defence capabilities. With its design, the Type 218SG submarines have a low signature and an air-independent propulsion system for extended underwater endurance.

Last July, the Republic of Singapore Navy celebrated welcoming the Impeccable into its fleet. The vessel is one of four submarines explicitly designed for operations in Singapore’s shallow and busy tropical waters. 

Singapore operates two units each of increasingly ageing Swedish-origin Archer-class and Challenger-class submarines. Two of the original four Challenger-class submarines were upgraded between 2016 and 19, with the remaining two decommissioned due to increasing obsolescence, according to GlobalData’s Singapore Defense Market 2023-2028 report.

Oliver Burkhard, CEO of thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, highlighted the project’s significance: “The submarines built in this project are the most modern conventional submarines the world has ever seen.” 

Burkhard attributed the success to the dedication and collaboration of numerous individuals involved in the project.

In addition to the submarine launch, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems and ST Engineering signed a memorandum of understanding, aiming to enhance the capabilities of Singapore’s Type 218SG submarines over their operational lifetimes. The agreement builds upon previous collaboration efforts and covers various technologies and applications, including additive manufacturing, maintenance training, data analytics, and obsolescence management.

The launch of the Inimitable represents another milestone for Singapore’s naval defence programme, showcasing the nation’s commitment to maritime technology and partnerships. As the vessel undergoes testing before its scheduled handover in 2025, anticipation builds for the continued advancement of Singapore’s naval capabilities.