Asia Defense | Security | Southeast Asia

US and Singapore Navies Sink Target Ship: Why It Matters

Exercise Pacific Griffin 2019 featured LCS firing new anti-ship missile.

Steven Stashwick
US and Singapore Navies Sink Target Ship: Why It Matters

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) frigate RSS Intrepid firing a Harpoon anti-ship missile in the waters off Guam during Ex Pacific Griffin 2019.

Credit: Republic of Singapore Ministry of Defense

The U.S. Navy and Republic of Singapore Navy are conducting their second bilateral Exercise Griffin in training waters near Guam. On October 1, ships and planes from the two countries sank a target hulk as part of a “SINKEX” using bombs and missiles.

U.S participants included the USS Gabrielle Giffords, the destroyer USS Momsen, P-8 patrol aircraft, Air Force B-52 bombers, and submarine. Singapore sent the RSS Intrepid and RSS Formidable, two of its most advanced and capable warships, to participate.

Singapore’s Ministry of Defense says that the exercise provides the opportunity to practice anti-air, anti-surface, and anti-submarine warfare, taking full advantage of the United States’ large training area near Guam. The crowded waters of the South China Sea where Singapore’s navy normally operates can limit the scope of training it conducts.

The commander of the Singaporean squadron explained that “Exercise Pacific Griffin is a valuable platform for the two navies to strengthen our mutual cooperation and interoperability. With the vast training space in the waters off Guam, the exercise also provides the RSN with the opportunity to conduct high-end exercises of substantial scope and complexity.”

According to the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the target hulk, an ex-U.S. Navy Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, was hit by Harpoon anti-ship missiles from the Singaporean ships, the Naval Strike Missile from the Giffords, missiles from P-8 patrol aircraft, Hellfire missiles from helicopters, and bombs from Air Force B-52 bombers.

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The Giffords is the first Littoral Combat Ship to deploy armed with the Naval Strike Missile, a joint venture between Raytheon and Norway’s Kongsberg. The Naval Strike Missile was chosen by the U.S. Navy to “up-gun” the LCS and provide it with an effective anti-ship capability. The U.S. Army has also experimented with mobile, land-based versions of the Naval Strike Missile to provide it with a coastal, anti-ship capability. The U.S. Marine Corps has already decided to procure the missile for its own coastal defense and anti-ship capability.

Singapore has six Formidable-class frigates, which are based on the French Lafayette-class. The multi-mission frigates are armed with Harpoon anti-ship missiles, vertically launched air defense missiles, anti-submarine torpedoes, a 76 millimeter gun, and carry a multi-mission helicopter.

The first Pacific Griffin exercise was held in 2017 to provide an opportunity for Singapore and the United States to train to high-end combat operations that are more complex than training and cooperation conducted during other regional exercises like SECAT and CARAT.