First LCS to undergo sea trials by mid-year, says Navy chief

KUANTAN: The first littoral combat ship (LCS) is expected to go into the water for sea trials in May or June, says Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Ayob.

He said the ship will then have 22 months to undergo installation of systems and equipment before it can be handed over to the Navy for operational tests, scheduled for the end of 2026.

"That is the first ship and if the programme goes well, we will receive the second LCS eight months after that, followed by the third unit eight months later and (then) the fourth.

"The success of the first LCS is critical in determining the continuation of this project until the fifth ship,” he told a press conference after the naming and commissioning ceremony for the KD Sri Sabah and KD Sri Sarawak patrol craft at Tanjung Gelang naval base here on Friday (Jan 19).

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He also described the smooth progress of the LCS construction so far as a significant achievement for the Navy and the firms involved.

In addition, Adm Abdul Rahman said the Navy’s application to obtain the second batch of littoral mission ships (LMS) is still at the decision stage at the Finance Ministry, but he is optimistic he will receive good news to continue with the procurement soon.

Regarding Friday's ceremony, he said KD Sri Sabah and KD Sri Sarawak were re-commissioned for the second time, considering that the patrol vessels were commissioned to the fleet in 1967 before being transferred to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) upon the agency’s establishment in 2006.

The vessels, each 31.4m long and 6m wide and capable of reaching a speed of 22 knots, were returned to the Navy on June 10, 2020 as an interim measure while waiting for new assets, and will be stationed here temporarily before heading to Naval Region 2 Headquarters (Mawilla 2) in Sandakan, Sabah.

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They will be used for policing eastern Sabah for operational needs in narrow and shallow waters, in addition to being used as a training platform.

"These two ships have been completely overhauled by MSET Shipbuilding Corporation Sdn Bhd (MSET) in Terengganu involving replating and repowering work, which is the conversion of a new propulsion power system and the installation of more modern support equipment and changes to the ship’s layout to ensure more effective and safe operation.

"We expect them to be operational for up to 15 years and the success of MSET in carrying out the re-fit of the patrol craft at a cost of RM18mil each proves that the local maritime defence industry is also capable and potentially competitive with overseas industries,” he said.

Adm Abdul Rahman said the Navy used to have 27 patrol craft but now there are only four, the other two being KD Sri Perlis and KD Sri Johor. – Bernama

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