(Source: Singapore Ministry of Defence; issued Sept. 29, 2005)
The Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN) newest warship, RSS Formidable, represents one of the transformational capabilities of the SAF, and it will
be at the forefront of maintaining maritime security in the waters around Singapore. Leveraging on technology, the lead ship of the Formidable-class
stealth frigates is designed with lean manning as a key consideration. With just 71 personnel on board and an air detachment crew of 15, it calls for
new operational mindsets and workflow.
As Commanding Officer of RSS Formidable, COL Jackson Chia's role is no different from commanding officers of other RSN vessels - to ensure the safety
of his crew, and that missions assigned to the ship are accomplished.
However, the challenge lies in mitigating the demands placed on the lean crew as they adapt to the complex systems and a whole host of
state-of-the-art defence systems and capabilities on board.
"I think being the pioneer batch is a privilege," said COL Chia. "But at the same time, it is also a heavy responsibility because you are bringing
together people from different areas of the Navy - people with different backgrounds, different areas of expertise - and trying to gel them together
as a team in order to operationalise a new capability."
I think that, in itself, is probably the greatest challenge, but if successful, it will be probably one of the joys of the command."
The new frontier
The key to unlocking the mystery of lean manning, he revealed, is the high level of automation. This changes a lot of the working processes on board
and makes it more efficient and effective to allow a ship of this platform to operate with a crew of 71 instead of the usual 150 for a warship of this
According to Coxswain, MWO Richard Goh, the crew are certainly relishing their role as the trailblazers, and are anxiously looking forward to
operating the multitude of systems on the frigate when these are ready.
"They are very excited because it is a new ship; it is the first time that the Navy is operating a frigate. It is the first time we are having a big
ship with so much firepower and a lot of new systems," he said.
Leading Ordnance Electronic Weapon Specialist, SSG Edwin Ong, who has been in the RSN for about seven years and was previously from Landing Ship Tank
RSS Endurance, enjoys the opportunity to gain more in-depth knowledge and to establish new processes and procedures on RSS Formidable.
For CPL Toh Wee Chong, a fellow Ordnance Electronic Weapon Specialist, who is one of the Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) on board, the steep
learning curve is what spurs him on.
"You need to learn a lot during this period, like the things to indent and providing what is needed for the ship," he explained. "Even though we
are NSFs, it is also a very good experience for us to have. Some experiences, such as man-management skills, are applicable even after we complete
COMBAT AND WEAPON SYSTEMS:
--Multi-Function Radar: THALES Herakles Multi-Function Radar (MFR)
--Navigation Radar: TERMA Electronic Navigation Radar
--Surface-to-Surface Missile: Harpoon Surface Missile System
--Surface-to-Air Missile: MDBA Aster Missile System
--Naval Gun: OTO Melara 76mm Gun
--Sonar: EDO Active Low Frequency Towed Sonar (ALOFTS)
--Torpedo: Whitehead A244S System
--Communications: CET Integrated Communications System
--Gun Fire Control System: EADS Gunfire Control System
--Standard Operating Common Consoles: ST (Elect) SES
Sweet looking ships. Great addition for Singapore