Deterring attacks to ports and naval bases using seawards floating barriers


An interview of Francis TJ, Project Manager for the programme of Seawards Floating Barriers at DCNS Far East.

Created in 2005 in the heart of the Straits of Malacca, DCNS Far East is one of the outposts of the Group for its service activities. Mainly composed of local staff from 6 different nationalities, the young company illustrates DCNS’ international strategy, i.e. be present in high potential areas with local teams. Already a prime contractor providing through-life support for the Singaporean frigates, DCNS Far East is aspiring to be a strong market player in ROV-based (Remotely Operated Vehicles) underwater inspection, and it supports the maintenance of the French Navy’s Pacific-based surveillance frigates.

It is no coincidence that DCNS Far East is becoming a reference with regards to the installation, operations and maintenance of port security barriers, a deterrent device designed to protect military and civil assets. Maintaining naval force availability is a challenge for navies across the globe as different threats are increasing. Adding to this, DCNS’ Singapore subsidiary has supported the Singaporean Navy for over 10 years, building invaluable experience of maritime assets protection.

Francis TJ, Project Manager of the Seawards Floating Barriers programme, shares his insights. A graduate from the National University of Singapore in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Technopreneurship, Francis has experience in offshore activities and shipbuilding in Asia and Australia.

160607 TJ FrancisCould you track the history of the SFB programme?

“I joined DCNS Far East in October 2014 as a project manager for the Seawards Floating Barriers’ programme. The company had installed the SFB in 2012 to protect the assets of the naval base of Changi in Singapore from potential attacks by sea. Opened in May 2004, the Changi Naval Base is Singapore’s prime naval base together with Tuas Naval Base in Western Singapore. The Changi Naval Base is located a few miles away from the country’s international airport and it is close to other critical assets.”

How has the relationship with the Singapore Navy evolved?

“It has been a fast evolving relationship and DCNS Far East has considerably broadened the scope of its product and service offerings in just a few years. From the initial installation contract, we have since been able to secure the operations contract (i.e. opening and closing the SFB gates with a dedicated SFB boat), the preventive maintenance contract and more recently the corrective maintenance contract.”

Why is maintenance so crucial on SFBs?

“Floating barriers are installed in a dynamic environment, with winds and current around the clock. In addition, the Northeast and Southwest Monsoons create changing sea conditions and current directions, so the components need constant attention, which is why a preventive and a corrective approach are indispensable.”

What are the other aspects of your mission?

“I ensure that my team (5 employees) has a strong sense of ownership and leverage on communication to engage all stakeholders to manage and achieve expectations. Clear instructions and guidelines are given to each individual so that all personnel are well orientated on their roles during gate operations, preventive maintenance and corrective maintenance. And I remain personally involved in the field, i.e. on the barrier itself, by participating in gate opening and closing operations as well as maintenance works.”

What’s next in line for SFBs?

“Our objective is to continue to provide prompt and efficient service to the Singapore Navy in order to be well positioned for any additional services they may require.”

DCNS Far East in a nutshell

Created in 2005 in Singapore, DCNS Far East has 35 employees of 6 different nationalities, with profiles going from engineering and procurement to mechanics / machinist, supply chain and HR. On the military side, DCNS Far East supports the Singapore Navy and particularly its fleet of Delta frigates, and the French Navy’s Pacific-based surveillance frigates; in the civilian domain, the subsidiary of DCNS Group specialises in underwater inspection using Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). Since 2013, DCNS Far East has carried out over 30 underwater inspection projects in Singapore and across Asia.

DCNS Far East: key milestones

  • 2000 – 2008: Delta programme for the provision of 6 Formidable class multi-role frigates
  • 2005: Creation of the DCNS Far East subsidiary. DCNS delivers the first of the 6 frigates built in Lorient
  • 2008: Delivery of the last Delta frigate to the Singapore Navy
  • 2012: Start of floating barrier activities
  • 2013: First underwater inspection contract
  • 2015: Development of service activities for the surveillance frigates of the French Navy