Republic of Singapore Navy MV Swift Rescue submarine support and rescue vessel (SSRV)
Republic of Singapore Navy MV Swift Rescue submarine support and rescue vessel (SSRV)

Singapore and India Sign Submarine Rescue Pact at Defence Ministers Dialogue

At the 5th India-Singapore Defence Ministers’ Dialogue held via video conferencing, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh witnessed the signing of the Implementing Agreement on Submarine Rescue Support and Cooperation between the two navies. During the meeting, Dr Ng and Mr Singh reaffirmed the strong and longstanding bilateral defence relationship and both countries’ commitment to sustain defence cooperation despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, said Mindef. The signing of the agreement reflected mutual trust and interoperability, said Dr Ng in an interview released by the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).

It was not surprising that the submarine pact was signed, as both navies have very close ties. While having such rescue pacts underline a certain measure of mutual trust and confidence, it’s one thing about signing onto the pacts and quite another about implementing them in times of a real contingency. Such pacts allow countries to seek help from Singapore, and vice versa, only in times of crisis and if there is political permission. Given the sensitive nature of potentially intervening in another country’s waters, such pacts are more likely to be technical – outlining the technical assistance that both countries can render in times of crisis.

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 Indian Navy INS Nireekshak (A15) Diving Support Vessel (DSV)
Indian Navy INS Nireekshak (A15) Diving Support Vessel (DSV)

During the Defence Ministers Dialogue (DMD), both Ministers reaffirmed the strong and long-standing bilateral defence relationship and reaffirmed both countries’ commitment to sustain bilateral defence cooperation despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. They discussed regional security developments and acknowledged the good progress made in cooperation across the three Services, on defence technology and in multilateral engagements. Both Ministers witnessed the signing of the Implementing Agreement on Submarine Rescue Support and Cooperation between the two Navies, and conveyed their full support towards the early conclusion of agreements to facilitate the conduct of live firings and the cross-attendance of courses by officers of both Armed Forces.

The Joint Statement released by Dr Ng and Mr Singh after the DMD reaffirmed both countries’ commitment to strengthen defence cooperation. Both Ministers recognised the positive trajectory of bilateral defence relations that has expanded into new areas of cooperation, such as in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and cybersecurity. Commending the successful engagements in the maritime domain amid the pandemic, both Ministers acknowledged the conclusion of the 27th edition of the Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise and the participation of both Navies in the second edition of the Singapore-India-Thailand Maritime Exercise, which were both held in Nov 2020.

COS-NS Rear-Admiral Edwin Leong showing a signed copy of the Submarine Rescue Support and Cooperation Implementing Arrangement with Singapore Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen
COS-NS Rear-Admiral Edwin Leong showing a signed copy of the Submarine Rescue Support and Cooperation Implementing Arrangement with Singapore Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen

Singapore currently has submarine rescue agreements with a number of other countries, including Australia, Indonesia, South Korea, the United States and Vietnam. The Republic Singapore Navy (RSN) currently operates the 84 m submarine rescue ship, Swift Rescue , which is capable of conducting intervention, and hyperbaric rescue operations. Meanwhile, the Indian Navy operates 70 m submarine rescue vessel, Nireekshak (15), which is equipped with a six-man recompression and can accommodate up to two deep-submergence rescue vehicles (DSRVs). In 2016 the Indian Navy signed a contract for two DSAR-650L DSRVs with JFD, and the first unit was delivered in 2018.

The Indian Navy and the Republic Singapore Navy (RSN) have signed a bilateral submarine rescue agreement, establishing mutual underwater emergency assistance between the two services. The RSN currently operates a fleet of two Archer-class and two Challenger-class diesel-electric submarines and is anticipating the delivery of four new Invincible (Type 218SG) boats from Germany. Meanwhile, the The Indian Navy currently operates fourteen diesel powered submarines and two nuclear powered submarines. India’s submarine fleet is based at two locations: Visakhapatnam on the east coast and Mumbai on the west coast.

Republic of Singapore Navy MV Swift Rescue submarine support and rescue vessel (SSRV)
Republic of Singapore Navy MV Swift Rescue submarine support and rescue vessel (SSRV)
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