The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) has finally inducted its first Invincible-class diesel-electric powered attack submarine: the Impeccable.

RSN officials welcomed the induction of the first of four submarines in a ceremony at RSS Singapura-Changi Naval Base on 20 July. Chief of Navy Rear Admiral Sean Wat, senior RSN officers and submariners were present to witness the ceremony.

Launched in Kiel, Germany by its original manufacturer, Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, on 13 December 2022, Impeccable is one of four Invincible-class submarines designed for operations in Singapore’s shallow and busy tropical waters.

Custom-built for Singapore’s needs, these submarines possess advanced capabilities, including high levels of automation, significant payload capacity, enhanced underwater endurance, and ergonomics optimised for the Asian physique.

Their induction into the RSN will enhance the navy’s capability to safeguard Singapore and protect its vital sea lines of communication.

Invincible-class design and features

According to GlobalData intelligence, Singapore operates 2 units each of increasingly aging Swedish-origin Archer-class and Challenger-class submarines. As such faced with the increasing obsolescence of its navy’s submarine arm the RSN placed an order for a total of four, highly customised, Invincible-class submarines from Thyssenkrupp.

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The submarines, also known as Type-218s, will replace the RSN’s current Archer-class and Challenger-class submarines that were built in the 1960s. Named Invincible, Impeccable, Illustrious, and Inimitable, the four diesel-electric submarines will be a part of the RSN’s submarine long-term capability development and force renewal programme and will also meet its operational requirements.

The Type 218SG vessels retain the design features of its predecessors, Types 214 and 212A submarines, such as the X rudder layout that will enable the vessel to manoeuvre in shallow littoral waters.

The submarines will be armed with modern combat systems, including eight torpedo tubes of 533mm. The bow section of the vessel will integrate a horizontal multi-purpose lock for launching torpedoes, missiles, and special forces assault teams, and an option to integrate vertical multi-purpose locks for launching missiles vertically.

Its advanced sensors on board the submarine will improve situational awareness in both shallow and congested waters. The next-generation automation and sense-making systems will further help in fast decision making.

Invincible-class will be powered by the air-independent propulsion system. The vessel will have a surface speed of more than 10 knots and a submerged speed of more than 15 knots. The submarines will have the capability of staying submerged for approximately 50% longer compared to the Archer-class submarines as it is fitted with an advanced air-independent propulsion system based fuel cell technology.