Singapore – The Republic’s battle against maritime piracy and terrorism has been given a high-tech boost with the unveiling of two types of unmanned vessels, the Protector and Spartan. The remotely-controlled boats could be used for dangerous missions without risking lives.
The Protector has already shown its battle-worthiness when it was fielded for eight-hour-long patrol missions in the Arabian Gulf. The 9.5-m boat is armed with one machine gun, camera, radar, microphone and loud speaker. The Spartan, which is developed to carry sensors and weapons for patrol missions, anti-submarine duties or mine clearing, will begin sea trials in Singapore next week. The vessels were unveiled by the Ministry of Defence on May 17, the first day of Imdex Asia 2005, Asia’s leading naval exhibition.
Lieutenant-Colonel Li Lit Siew, who heads the naval war-fighting experimentation branch, said unmanned boats had “phenomenal” potential for transforming the way the Republic of Singapore Navy inspects suspicious vessels. “The ability to reach out, touch, see and feel first without putting a person in harm’s way is very important,” he said.
* In harm’s way, without risking lives (The Straits Times, May 18)