The first littoral combat ship (LCS) is expected to go into the water for sea trials in May or June, said 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 RMN for operational tests, which is 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 the fourth unit. The success of the first LCS is very critical in determining the continuation of this project until the fifth ship,” he said.

Abdul Rahman said this at a press conference after attending the ceremony for naming and commissioning of RMN’s KD Sri Sabah and KD Sri Sarawak patrol crafts at the Tanjung Gelang naval base here today.

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

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

Commenting on the naming ceremony, Abdul Rahman said KD Sri Sabah and KD Sri Sarawak were re-commissioned for the second time, considering that the patrol crafts were commissioned to the RMN fleet in 1967 before being transferred to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) upon the agency’s establishment in 2006.

The patrol crafts, each 31.4 metres long and 6 metres wide and capable of reaching a speed of 22 knots, were returned to RMN 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.

Based on the plan, the patrol crafts will be used for policing the waters of Eastern Sabah for operational needs in narrow and shallow waters, in addition to being used as a training platform for navy personnel.

“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 these two ships to be operational for up to 15 years and the success of MSET in carrying out the re-fit of the patrol crafts at a cost of RM18 million each proves that the local maritime defence industry is also capable and potentially competitive with overseas industries,” he said.

Abdul Rahman said the RMN used to have 27 patrol crafts, but now there are only four, namely KD Sri Sabah, KD Sri Sarawak, KD Sri Perlis and KD Sri Johor.

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