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Singapore- Keel of First Frigate laid at DCN, Lorient on 14 Nov 2002 (14 Nov 2002)

The keel of the first vessel of Singapore navy's new class of stealth warships was laid yesterday at the Lorient docks of French shipbuilders Direction Des Constructions Navales (DCN).

DCN is designing and building the first ship, while Singapore Technologies Marine is working on the other five.

The Defence Ministry's permanent secretary Peter Ho, who was at the keel-laying ceremony in France.

ST Marine has begun construction last month of the second and third of the remaining five frigates in Singapore.

Capable of reaching speeds of over 25 knots and a range of 4,000 nautical miles, the 3,200-tonne frigates with a crew of about 60 will be able to counter threats from air, from other ships and from submarines.

Their firepower will include a medium-calibre naval gun, surface-to-surface missiles, anti-missile missiles, torpedoes, and a helicopter.

The Republic of Singapore Navy frigates will incorporate, for the first time, stealth technology which makes the vessels more difficult to detect, increasing their ability to survive.

The French La Fayette class of warships, which DCN built for the French navy, uses special paints and building material to achieve this.

The first ship is expected to be delivered in 2005, and all of them would be fully operational by 2009.