RSS Independence retires from service, name to live on in LMV Independence

Top: RSS Independence (in front) and LMV Independence (background) at the decommissioning ceremony at Tuas Naval Base yesterday. Above: Singapore Navy sailors bade farewell to the patrol vessel during the ceremony, as flags on the warship were lowere
RSS Independence (in front) and LMV Independence (background) at the decommissioning ceremony at Tuas Naval Base yesterday. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Above: Singapore Navy sailors bade farewell to the patrol vessel during the ceremony, as flags on the warship were lowered for the last time on RSS Independence.
Above: Singapore Navy sailors bade farewell to the patrol vessel during the ceremony, as flags on the warship were lowered for the last time on RSS Independence.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

For about 20 years, one of the first warships designed and built in Singapore patrolled the country's waters, escorted other ships and kept a lookout for potential threats.

Called RSS Independence, the Singapore Navy's patrol vessel carries a storied name that goes back to a pioneer ship that entered service in December 1970.

Yesterday, the patrol vessel, which belongs to the Fearless class of military vessels, was retired.

Its name, however, will be passed on to the navy's next generation of ships: the Littoral Mission Vessels (LMVs).

The LMV Independence will be commissioned on May 5 as part of the Singapore Navy's 50th-anniversary celebrations.

But yesterday, the spotlight was on RSS Independence as the navy bade farewell to its patrol vessel in a ceremony basked in the warm fading lights of sundown.

The flags on the warship were lowered for the last time, as Singapore Navy sailors gave the vessel one last salute at Tuas Naval Base.

The decommissioningwas witnessed by senior navy officers, as well as the past and present crew of the RSS Independence.

Chief of Navy Lai Chung Han cited its contributions to Singapore's maritime security and its participation in various multilateral exercises, such as the Western Pacific Naval Symposium Multilateral Sea Exercise.

He also paid tribute to the officers who had sailed on the vessel, saying: "The success of RSS Independence would not have been possible without the unwavering dedication, professionalism, tenacity and sacrifice of the generations of officers and crew who have served on board."

He added that, among other things, the ship will be remembered for "swiftly and successfully" rescuing five fishermen from their capsized fishing trawler in the waters off Pedra Branca in September 2015.

The RSS Independence was commissioned on Aug 22, 1998, by then Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Tony Tan Keng Yam, who is now the President.

The patrol vessel took over the duties of patrol craft RSS Independence, which was one of the six pioneer warships bought by the Singapore Navy in 1968. These pioneers were replaced by the patrol vessels between 1996 and 1998.

Now, the 1998 warship has been in service for about 20 years. The faster, more versatile and better-equipped LMV will take its place to defend Singapore's waters.

By 2020, the LMVs will be fully operational.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2017, with the headline 'RSS Independence retires from service, name to live on in LMV Independence'. Print Edition | Subscribe