SINGAPORE - Singapore navy's first-of-class Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV) RSS Independence is now fully operational to safeguard the country's waters, protect its sea lines of communication and contribute to regional peace and security.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong commissioned the vessel at Changi Naval Base on Friday (May 5) at an event marking the Singapore navy's 50th anniversary.
The RSS Independence, which was launched in July 2015, is the first of eight LMVs to be commissioned and tasked to replace the fleet of 11 Fearless-class patrol vessels by 2020.
The vessel was designed and built locally by the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the Defence Science and Technology Agency.
At the commissioning ceremony, PM Lee said the name is a significant and historic one.
"Significant because protecting Singapore's independence has always been a core mission of the RSN. Historic because the name Independence carries the legacy and spirit of the navy's pioneers," he said.
It is the third time an RSN vessel is bearing the name Independence.
The first was a patrol craft - one of six pioneer warships bought by the Singapore Navy in 1968 - and the second was a patrol vessel commissioned on Aug 22, 1998, by then Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Tony Tan Keng Yam, who is now the President.
The ceremony was witnessed by about 1,700 navy personnel and guests, including Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen, Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Perry Lim, Chief of Navy Rear Admiral Lai Chung Han and the eight former chiefs of navy.
Besides Independence, three LMVs - Sovereignty, Unity and Justice - have been launched and are undergoing sea trials before they are commissioned and turn operational.
As part of the RSN's golden jubilee celebrations, PM Lee also launched the RSN50 commemorative book, which chronicles the experiences and achievements of the men and women of the navy.
He also launched the RSN50 doodle wall, an art mural depicting Singapore's maritime heritage alongside the progress of the RSN, by colouring the crescent moon in gold.
The public can colour on the doodle wall from May 27 to June 11 at Safra Punggol and from June 13 to 26 at Safra Toa Payoh.
PM Lee also sealed a time capsule comprising artefacts symbolic of the RSN's key achievements over the past 50 years.
Items in the capsule include a framed poster of the ports-of-call during the navy's first round-the-world voyage, known as Sail Navy 2000; a replica of the new LMV; and a book compilation of the aspirations of navy personnel for the next 25 years.
The time capsule will be opened on the RSN's 75th anniversary in 2042.