Old Is Gold, Part 2

SHAH ALAM: As the RMN is conducting the Obsolescence Programme to allow its FAC fleet to continue service for at least another 15 years (three Malaysian Plans), our southern neighbour has repurposed its former Fearless class patrol boats into maritime security vessels.

Four of the former patrol boats now formed a new maritime security and response flotilla (MRSF together with two tugboats, also repurposed for the same role. The new flotilla was announced yesterday.

From Singapore Defence Ministry.

Maritime Security and Response Flotilla

The MSRF info-graphic. Singapore MINDEF

Sentinel-class Maritime Security and Response Vessels
The MSRF will be responsible to develop and operate calibrated capabilities to provide the Singapore government and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) with more options to respond to maritime incidents. The capabilities raised by the MSRF will provide flexibility to meet the increased demands and a wider scope of maritime security operations, and offer greater persistence to protect Singapore’s territorial waters. The MSRF will form an important part of the restructured Maritime Security Command.
The MSRF will operate new purpose-built vessels from 2026. As a start, the flotilla will operate four Sentinel-class Maritime Security and Response Vessels (MSRVs). It will also operate two Maritime Security and Response Tugboats (MSRTs). In line with other international maritime security agencies, these vessels will all bear red “racing” stripes on their bow.

Four ex-Fearless class patrol vessels have been refurbished as the Sentinel-class MSRVs. In addition to refitting the vessels to extend their operational lifespan, the Sentinel-class MSRVs will be installed with a range of calibrated capabilities. This includes enhanced communications equipment, improved visual and audio warning systems, installation of a fender system and modular ballistics protection.

Name Pennant Number
MSRV Sentinel 55
MSRV Guardian 56
MSRV Protector 57
MSRV Bastion 58

MSRV Sentinel and MSRV Guardian will enter into operational service today, while MSRV Protector and MSRV Bastion will be refurbished and operationalised in the coming months.

Maritime Security and Response Tugboats

Two tugboats will join the MSRF under a long-lease arrangement. As dedicated tugboats, they will enable the RSN to better respond to and assist incidents at sea, as well as support base operations.

Future Purpose-built Vessels

The future purpose-built vessels are still in the early stages of concept design. They are expected to be larger than the Sentinel-class MSRVs and have longer endurance to operate at sea for up to a few weeks. Additionally, these vessels will be designed for lean manning with modular capabilities.

The former RSS Dauntless seen during an exercise in 2018. By Indian Navy – https://www.indiannavy.nic.in/node/18348, GODL-India, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67354805

As stated the vessels have been equipped with balistic protection, communication and a fender system to allow “come alongside vessels of interest quickly” or fast boarding. Singaporean maritime analyst Collin SL Koh has this to say on this

Received some queries and comments that the Sentinel class MSRVs are specially modified for ramming. I’ll explain. That’s not the only rationale. In a high-speed pursuit the MSRV may try to be alongside the target vessel close enough so personnel can board.Of course, in a maritime standoff with opposing naval or MLE forces this modification helps when there’s shouldering involved, so that the MSRV won’t suffer damages similar to that of USS Yorktown after being bumped by Soviet frigate Bezzavetny in Black Sea in 1988.And where necessary, the modification helps if the MSRV has to bump off some pesky hostile craft that’s helmed by violent extremists attempting to commit acts of maritime terrorism, such as the case of Philippine Navy against ASG in Sulu Sea last November.

A close up of the MSRV

So far of what we know about the OP none of the above capabilities will be fitted. They will have new engines, hulls and an indigenous CMS. Perhaps RMN will surprised us with the fenders, at least.

KD Pendekar
KD Pendekar, one of the four Handalan class boats at LIMA 19. The Handalan class FAC is among the boats to undergo the OP.

It is interesting also to note that Singapore has already planned to replace these newly minted MSRV with new ones while there is no firm plans for our own FAC fleet.

— Malaysian Defence

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