Thursday, 16 May 2013


I visited IMDEX 2013 at the Changi Exhibition Centre (CEC) in Singapore on Thursday 16th May 2013. This is held once every 2 years, and is a Maritime Defence Exhibition akin to the maritime section of LIMA. The static display at the Changi Exhibition Centre is nowhere near as crowded as when the Singapore Aerospace exhibition is in residence. The crowds were not there, and it is all quite civilised.

The organisers have a good website, and all relevant info can be accessed here:

The apron that houses the static aerial display functions as what it is usually intended for- which is as a giant car park. Which means you can park you car there, without all the other transport hassles associated with Singapore Aerospace.

If you like warship models, you will like IMDEX.

There are  multiple LED large screens showing how lethal naval weaponry can be. Of note is the rise of UAVs, USVs and other automated/ remote/ fully autonomous vehicles. Soon, navies will be able to kill people and break things without venturing far from base transmitter station.

RSN's Protector USV. Remote Killer.

Don't leave home without a UAV

The RSN's standard embarked UAV is the Scan Eagle:

The  rise of stealth features now creeps onto the physiogomy of warship designs. No more spiky protrusions everywhere, now it is all about angles and fit!

It all looks rather tidy now. Even weapons turrets have been stealthified.

The other LCS class: USS Independence

This is a cutout model of a Scorpene submarine at the DCNS stand.

A big part of the exhibition was also given over to data integration. A naval platform does not fight alone and blind anymore; it needs to be integrated into a infonet able to control and fight a land/sea/air/subsea battlespace. It is quite likely that if you are ill-aware and stupid, you will die without knowing what blew you up.

Going to war gets complicated, and expensive.

ST Engineering- standing tall on Home Turf

Singapore bought the Formidable-class stealth frigates from DCNS, then retired the old MGBs a few years back... so what is the next big item on the shopping list?

Well, with the US basing its Littoral Combat Ship in Singapore, it seems that the RSN thinks Littoral Combat is the way to go, so contracts have been signed with ST Engineering for 8 new OPVs.

The Warships Display is at the Changi Naval Base. There were shuttle buses connecting the two sites.

It was drizzling in the morning, so I walked around the CEC in the morning (not that hard to do), and arrived at the Changi Naval Base just after noon.  Aside from the visiting foreign warships on show, most classes of ships operated by the Republic of Singapore Navy were on show, as the Naval Base was organising  its Navy Open House this weekend (18-19th May).

What was new there? An interesting piece of new hardware was the new USN Littoral Combat Ship LCS-1 (USS  Freedom) which was berthed. Unfortunately, they were closed for training that afternoon, no visits on board allowed. But photos- take all you want from the outside.

Cloud Cover: 7 Oktas (pity).

USS Freedom

The list of foreign warships are found here:

As the warship visits go, you could walk for a small area topside on most of the visiting foreign warships, with no permission to go below- as I think most of the ships were only in Singapore for a short time, and had not arranged for an unfettered examination of their internal spaces.

HMAS Bathurst

HTMS Rattanakosin

FS L'Adroit

KD Lekiu

INS Satpura and INS Kirch 
(look carefully- can you see which is the corvette and which is the much larger frigate?)

Look again!

KRI Frans Kasiepo and KRI Kujang

The tenth foreign warship, the ROKS Wang Geon, had already departed for home. I think some of the other foreign warships will also have left for home by the weekend.

The other event going on at the Changi Naval Base was the triennial Navy Open House (as it alternates with the Army and Air Forces' Open Houses), and Thursday 16th May and Friday 18th May are actually Preview Days for organised groups, which essentially means schoolchildren. It certainly is not as packed as it would be over the weekend, and was quite pleasant from that standpoint. The Open House functions to explain to the Singapore public the role and history of the RSN, show off hardware, and is also a PR exercise for recruitment. Quite a few areas selling F and B, which is sorely needed- walking around the Naval Base is severely dehydrating!

This is a preview writeup:

This is the website for the Open House:

There is a "Dynamic Show" which is essentially a setpiece of RSN assets vs terrorists on a ship. The times are as follows:

Terrorist takedown

I suppose "terrorists" make it so easy not to have to disclose who one thinks your enemy really is. Life must be so politically correct now, as old enemies become friends.

I went on the RSN's LST RSS Endurance, the largest vessel berthed there- a multistorey hulk which allowed quite a lot of climbing within its internal structure and spaces. This ship gives the impression of "Huge" and "Spacious".

RSS Endurance

Model of RSS Endurance

The helideck was really, really huge!

The hangar was equally capacious.

The Officers Mess was very nice- looks like a very cosy pub.

The crew's mess was a lot more clinical and austere!

Place for siesta

The bridge made quite good use of glass displays.  It seems the helmsman really can't see much from his position... he has to rely on the Officer of the Watch for steering instructions.

Long passages...

On the ramparts of RSS Endurance

Don't look down!

Finally, you got to the Tank Deck, traversing the whole length of the vessel. At that level, Both ends could open to the sea - the clamshell bow doors and ramp can swing open for front loading, while the  stern ramp can also open to the sea by swinging downwards, the better for launching and recovering FCUs.

View towards the bow

View towards the stern

One could queue for a chance to take a cruise round the base in a FCU, a trip that takes you just outside the concrete  mole protecting the Naval Base. Quite worth waiting for.

Even in-camera HDR could not rectify the extreme dynamic range in this shot.
FCU embarked within the well dock

FCU under way

The Outer Limits!

Bow doors and bow ramp of the RSS Endurance
Note the massive Tank Deck along  the whole length of the ship

There was also a queue for a DUCK tour around the naval base, but this really was not as exciting as the FCU trip, being very short- just a trip halfway down the basin, then turn back to shore.

Just a quick splashdown

There is also a ballot for slots to go on a spin (what they called a Sea Cruise) in a minesweeper, patrol vessel and missile corvette. I wasn't lucky enough in the lottery, and ran out of time.

The sun peeked out as I was departing- what a pity. I trust this weekend's weather will allow better lighting- in past years, the photography at the Open House was quite good (and on other years, it can also be plain poor).

Update 3-6-13:

RSS Endurance external shots added from Sunday 19th May 2013. Bright blue-sky day. Endurance is very hard to get exactly "Right", as she is painted black!

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