A Type 218SG German submarine and Rear-Admiral Cheong Kwok Chien, RSN’s head of naval operations

RSN to buy 4 new “BMW” submarines costing $3.2 billion while water and electricity tariffs up 20%

It was reported in the mainstream media yesterday that the Singapore Navy is buying 4 new good quality German submarines likened to be like BMW cars on the road (“‘Submarines like BMWs’: A closer look at the Navy’s newest, custom-made German submarine“, 2 Jul).

“German submarines are like BMWs, so we are very glad we decided on this class of submarine,” said Rear-Admiral Cheong Kwok Chien, RSN’s head of naval operations, in a recent media interview.

“This new build is designed for Singapore roads, tailored to our ergonomics, size and driving range. Even the horn sounds better,” he added.

The Defence Ministry said Singapore will get four Type 218SG German submarines, with delivery from 2021. The contract for the first 2 has been reported to be worth more than 1 billion euros or S$1.6 billion. Hence, with the 4 submarines, the total cost would be more than S$3.2 billion.

Previously, RSN operated second-hand retrofitted Swedish submarines but now, MINDEF has decided to buy new “BMW” ones – German submarines likened to be like BMWs on the road with a better sounding “horn”.

The 4 submarines would be made by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) in Germany.

RADM Cheong was very excited when the German maker prepared high-resolution, virtual reality goggles for his team to put on and “walk” through the submarine on computer screen.

“We can actually know the ergonomics,” he said. “For a Singaporean’s height, can I reach the top? We could also make the pathways smaller and put more equipment because we are smaller in size.”

Excellent capabilities of new German subs

The new German subs come with improved sonar to locate enemies faster and more accurately. “It’s like going into a disco and picking up the sweetest voice,” RADM Cheong said. They also each has 8 forward-firing torpedo tubes for heavyweight torpedoes.

The “big improvement”, however, lies in the submarine’s electronics and computers that enable fewer crew members to do more with the weapons, RADM Cheong noted.

“If you watch the old war movies, it’s a whole bunch of people trying to hear (the enemy) then get the torpedo ready; there’s a whole lot of activity on the boat,” he said. “No, what we are going for now is one guy pressing a button to release the torpedo.”

Another improvement is the air-independent propulsion (AIP) system, which RADM Cheong said would allow the German subs to stay underwater longer before surfacing to recharge the battery. They can stay underwater two times longer than RSN’s current ones.

“Surface ships dislike submarines a lot, because most egos are broken by submariners,” RADM Cheong said proudly and added that in a one-on-one situation with conventional warships, submarines will “always win”.

Singaporeans tighten belts as water tariffs and electricity bills up 20%

While RADM Cheong plays with his virtual reality goggles and focuses on how to kill an “enemy” warship on a one-to-one with his new “BMW” subs, water tariffs and electricity bills are set to go up by more than 20 per cent for Singaporeans from this month July.

It was reported that Singaporeans are tightening their belts in view of the water tariff and electricity bill hikes.

Over the past year, Ghim Moh resident and fruit seller Anna Chan, 56, has been making effort to recycle water from her washing machine to clean the toilets and floors, and uses water from washing vegetables for her plants. “Knowing that it’s now going to be (more expensive), we definitely have to cut down our usage… If not it’s very heart pain,” she said in Mandarin.

Taxi driver Kent Chia, 46, forks out about S$100 monthly in utilities for his five-room flat, and his family-of-three is “extra mindful” of electricity and water usage, and they “save where we can”. They have a washing machine that uses less water, and they plan to wash dishes and utensils in a basin instead of individually.

Housewife Chuang Pek Yah, 62, who lives in a condo in Bukit Timah, tries to save money by dimming the ceiling lamp, and she is considering doing the laundry every other day, instead of daily. Her family-of-four already pay S$100 a month for their water bill, and a further fee hike would lead to her “getting very frustrated”.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli told Parliament early this year that the higher water prices has spurred households to cut water consumption last year from 148 litres to 143 litres per person per day. This was the sharpest drop in at least a decade, the Minister happily announced.