Friday, July 3, 2015
Try before buy: Republic of Singapore Navy wooden Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV) mock up is one of its kind
Whether or not you like warships, a visit to the Republic of Singapore Navy's Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV) mock Integrated Command Centre is likely to take your breath away.
To see the full-sized replica of the area where RSN warfighters steer, fight and monitor the LMV out at sea, one first has to climb seven flights of steel stairs bolted to the side of a building to get to the top floor. The climb is worth it because the Singapore Navy has never had anything like it before.
The mock up of the LMV - the RSN's latest warship type - is housed in an otherwise nondescript building at Singapore Technologies Marine's yard at Benoi Basin that is named, plainly and unimaginatively, as C Workshop.
We're at the top floor of the highest point of the cavernous C Workshop, whose high roof was purposefully designed tall so ST Marine shipbuilders can mix and match assorted components sheltered from sunshine and rain to form the semblance of a ship. The architect who planned the workspace in the C Workshop's attic must have been working on a shoestring budget, because there is no passenger lift to the area.
Visitors who brave the 98 individual stairs enter an area called the Mould Loft.
While catching one's breath and as one's eyes adjust to the indoor lighting from the bright sunshine outdoors, we see a clean work area with LMV line drawings you cannot photograph before coming upon the centrepiece of the Mould Loft.
It is hand-crafted entirely from plywood and is an amazing piece of handiwork.
All parts which are supposed to move can actually do so and we soon see barrels of the 25mm Typhoon gun and the Hitrole 12.7mm guns at crazy elevation and azimuth, thanks to visitors with itchy fingers who cannot resist some touchy feely. The diopter can pivot and swing, just like a real one. The LMV mock up faithfully recreates the workspace, windows, doors, bridge wing and interior fittings of the real bridge superstructure.
If submitted for the Singapore Biennale, this would instantly qualify as an objet d'art par excellence.
If ST Marine didn't pay the mock up's builders well enough and they decided to go into the furniture business, the craftsmen would probably make a killing.
The RSN has never had anything like this done for any previous class of warship designed and built in Singapore, said Military Expert 5 Tang Chee Meng, Principal Engineer for the LMV Project Office, RSN.
Forget computer-aided design and all the funky software which allow naval architects to design warships on a desktop. The LMV mock was hand made to test and refine design concepts from the LMV project team.
Try before buy
Just as a show flat allows potential home buyers to try-before-buy, the wooden wonder in ST Marine's Mould Loft was painstakingly built by four exceeding talented craftsmen in just two months to allow the LMV project team to see and experience what the Integrated Command Centre would look like.
Placement of screens, the elbow room between work stations and bum wriggle room that divides the phalanx of flat screen displays used to furnish the air and sea situation picture have been tried out and modified in the past year and a half, said Lieutenant Colonel Chew Chun Chau, Head of the LMV Project.
The result is a floor plan for an Integrated Command Centre that the LMV's future users have seen, tested and commented on, long before any of the warfighters even stepped foot aboard the real thing.
The first real LMV, RSS Independence (15), was launched this morning at ST Marine's Benoi yard by Mrs Ivy Ng, the wife of Singapore's Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen.
This unprecedented attention to detail stems from a radical departure from previous warship design templates which dictated that the spaces where sailors sail, fight and monitor the warship's vital signs should be placed in separate compartments. On the Independence-class LMVs, the bridge, Combat Information Centre and Machinery Control Room are housed in the Integrated Command Centre to "achieve greater operational effectiveness and efficiency, especially during maritime security operations", said LTC Chew.
The wooden mock up gives designers firsthand experience seeing how floor space and work processes can be optimised.
This replica is complemented by yet another mock-up somewhere else in Singapore. This LMV replica is an interactive mock up where computer screens at battle management stations actually work and where the view outside the window is a computer simulation of the LMV's future work environment.
Working quietly and without fanfare and out of the public eye, the LMV project team has used the mock ups to stress test ideas and warfighting concepts. All this effort to give Fleet RSN a smarter, faster and sharper way of hunting and killing hostile forces in the littoral zone close to shore and in confined waterways.
Today, the wooden mock up was finally declassified and put on show. It is a sight to behold.
Posted by David Boey at 6:58 PM