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Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN) launched its second Archer-class submarine, RSS Swordsman, at the Kockums Shipyard in Karlskrona, Sweden. RSS Swordsman is one of two ex-Vaastergotland-class submarines acquired by Singapore in 2005. The other, RSS Archer, was launched in 2009. The two vessels have been retrofitted with the latest state-of-the-art Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, which allows them to last six weeks underwater. The submarines will be based at Changi Naval Base (CNB).
AIP is a term that encompasses technologies which allow a submarine to operate without the need to surface or use a snorkel to access atmospheric oxygen. The term usually describes augmenting or replacing the diesel-electric propulsion system of non-nuclear vessels. AIP is usually implemented as an auxiliary source. It contains an engine which is coupled to an electric generator and heated by burning diesel fuel with liquid oxygen stored in cryogenic tanks. Most such systems generate electricity which in turn drives an electric motor for propulsion or recharging the boat’s batteries. The submarine’s electrical system is also used to provide “hotel services” like ventilation, lighting, heating etc. which consumes a small amount of power compared to that required for propulsion. AIP does not normally provide the endurance or power to replace the atmospheric dependent propulsion, but allows it to remain submerged longer. A typical conventional power plant will provide 3 megawatts maximum, and an AIP source around 10% of that.