Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong officiated the launch ceremony of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN)’s second and third Invincible-class submarines, Impeccable and Illustrious, at thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (tkMS) shipyard in Kiel, Germany on 13 December 2022. The submarines were launched by Mrs Lee Hsien Loong, who, as the spouse of the officiating officer, was the Lady Sponsor. German Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz attended the launch ceremony as an honored guest, at the invitation of PM Lee. The ceremony was also witnessed by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Chief of German Navy Vice-Admiral Jan Christian Kaack, RSN’s Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral Aaron Beng, CEO tkMS Oliver Burkhard, Chief Executive Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) Mervyn Tan, and other senior defense officials from both countries.

Emphasiszing the importance of the submarines during his address at the ceremony, PM Lee said, “Singapore is a maritime nation and we are highly reliant on the free and unimpeded movement of goods and services across the sea for our prosperity and indeed survival. The RSN has the crucial mission of keeping our Sea Lines of Communication open. Submarines provide the RSN an added capability to fulfil its role.” Expressing optimism for the warm and growing defense relations between Singapore and Germany, he added, “Our collaboration on this strategic capability underscores the depth of partnership and the trust between our navies and our defense industries. I am confident that the relationship between Germany and Singapore will grow from strength to strength, and I look forward to more meaningful interactions between our militaries.”

The Invincible-class submarines are custom-designed for operations in Singapore’s shallow and busy tropical waters, and they possess longer endurance and higher payloads. Following the launch, Impeccable and Illustrious, will undergo a series of sea trials before delivery to Singapore. The first submarine Invincible was launched in 2019, while the fourth submarine Inimitable, remains under construction.

The launch of the two submarines, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, underpins the resilience and readiness of the SAF, RSN and DSTA. It marks a key milestone in the RSN’s submarine modernization journey. The launch is also testament to the warm and growing defense ties between Singapore and Germany, underpinned by the signing of the enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement in 2018. Both countries cooperate and interact widely through high-level visits and dialogues, military exchanges and training, cross-attendance of professional courses, and in areas of mutual interest, such as in defense technology and cyber.