Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Second Batch Of Patrol Vessels To See The Light
It was with a glad heart that I heard and read of the Malaysian Government's decision to go ahead with the building of the second batch of patrol vessels for the Royal Malaysian Navy once the first batch of six vessels has been delivered in 2010. The Prime Minister who is also the Defence Minister announced this at the naming ceremony of the fifth patrol vessel PV Kelantan recently. He said the role of the RMN and other maritime agencies was becoming more challenging following increased threats to safety of navigation in the world's sea lanes.He said the recent hijacking of MISC vessels by pirates in Somalia waters was an indication of how important it was for the RMN to strengthen itself with more combat vessels to face these threats by having more ships. He further states that the patrol vessel project is not only to patrol and defend the sovereignty of our national waters, but for special missions in the strategic waters around the world. It has to be remembered that the RMN's assets has been depleted substantially with the transfer of two and a half squadrons of patrol craft to the Malaysian Coast Guard force that was supposed to be replaced by these patrol vessels, so it is appropriate for the program to be continued to check the navy's shortfall.
As for the status of the first batch of patrol vessels, the first two ships are now in active service with their home base in Sabah, while the second pair is reportedly undergoing their acceptance trials with the third vessel scheduled to enter service around March or April this year. Meanwhile the last ship of the batch was announced to be launched at a similar date this year, so it is most likely that the batch delivery will be finished in 2010 as announced so that construction of the next batch can commenced. It has also been speculated that this second batch vessels will be armed with a new gun combination, either the Bofors 57 mm Mk3 and Millennium GDM-008 (Millennium Gun Weapon System) combination or OTO MELARA 76/62 SR and MARLIN-WS (modular-advanced-remote-controlled weapon station). This will replace the existing OTO MELARA 76/62 SR and OtoBreda FSAF/Mauser 30mm MN 30 GS combination that some claims do not provide adequate air defence for the vessels. After reviewing the specifications of the Marlin WS, it is interesting to note that the manufacturer claims that the weapon can be equipped with point defence missile launchers, giving the vessels an organic missile defence capability at a location other than the fitted for but not with points. Meanwhile the Millennium gun would provide a system capable of engaging fast-moving incoming air targets highly effective and with a high probability of structural kill. Whatever it is, we do need these patrol vessels and fast so here's hoping that there will be no further hurdles to construction programme.