Saturday, 20 June 2009

Of Subs And Skum

News this week that the Singapore navy has two new submarines being fitted out in Europe and due for arrival in the new year.

This came as news to me as I wasn't even aware that they had a submarine fleet. Scarcely surprising given the secretive nature of the Service.

The secrecy is quite unlike that experience a few years ago by the Australian Navy when they proudly launched their own home-grown fleet. Unfortunately the propulsion units must have been developed by a diesel mechanics from Wagga Wagga and were an abysmal failure.

They were so noisy that when in motion it was reminiscent of dragging a bridal set of tin cans across the ocean floor, rather defeating the requirement for operations by stealth.

Singapore Archer class subs. ( the abbreviation for submarine, as opposed to the more popular Subway breadrolls consumed in their thousands each day for rabid Singaporean teenagers) are in fact not new but refitted and upgraded version of a Swedish vessel.

It is a little known fact that the Swedes have been playing around in submarine for 100 years. Their other claim to fame are Ikea meatballs, which have got noticeably smaller in recent times.

Once the size of a billiard ball they now resemble '
tom-bowler' marbles. I tried them once but found them bland compared to the New Zealand home variety. The Ikea version are very popular in Singapore, ranked second to the deep fried chicken wings which are consumed with great gusto.

I always enjoy looking at packaging in other languages. Ikea's product line has some interesting titles such as the package of marshmallow mushrooms (above). Anything with 'skum' in it holds little appeal to me.

Knowing how clever the Singaporeans are at bargaining I suspect a year's supply of meatballs has been negotiated as part of the submarine Archer refit deal.

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