Singapore, a tiny island nation with a population of three million, lies astride one of the two narrow straits that handle most of the ship traffic between East Asia and points east (particularly the Middle East). Over the last three decades, Singapore has built a small, but powerful, navy to guard the Singapore straits. The island, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, has been a major port for centuries. Currently, a ship enters or leaves the port every two or three minutes. To guard this traffic from pirates, terrorism, or any other hostile action, the 5,000 man Singapore navy has 52 ships in service (with 16 more planned or building.) Five powerful coastal surveillance radars cover the waters around the island, making it a lot easier to send ships to troublespots quickly.
In the last twelve years, the navy has bought 32 ships, aiming to build a naval force that could deal with any local military emergency. The ships of the Singapore navy are small, but heavily armed and well suited for operations close to shore. The largest warships are six 550 ton corvettes equipped with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles. These are supported by six smaller 264 ton missile boats (with fewer missiles and shorter patrol range.) There is also four second hand (and refurbished) Swedish submarines. One is in service, with the others on the way. Most of the actual patrolling is done by a dozen offshore patrol vessels, and 14 smaller inshore ones. There are also four well equipped mine hunter ships, six amphibious ships and one ship to support diving operations. Ton for ton, Singapore probably has one of the more effective navies on the planet.