Monday, July 27, 2009

Second Phase Sea Trials For Tun Razak

Recently, only news on KD Tun Abdul Rahman has dominated the local news. According to this Spanish news release, The second Malaysian Scorpene Submarine, Tun Razak, has now been returned to the water after being dry-docked for two months. It is expected that she will continue with her second phase of sea trials early next month that will continue until early October. The official handing over ceremony of the submarine to the Royal Malaysian Navy is reportedly planned for the end of October.

Navantia began sea trials in waters off Cartagena of the second Scorpene submarine that the consortium formed by the French company DCNS and NAVANTIA is building for the Royal Malaysian Navy, and which had been christened ‘Tun Razak’.

The aim of this sortie was to commence checks on the operation of the different equipment that has been installed on the submarine. This first phase of trials will last until the end of April.

After a subsequent period of approximately 3 months during which the submarine will be in dry dock for routine maintenance work, the second phase of sea trials will be performed until October 25 of this year, the date scheduled for delivery of the Tun Razak to the Royal Malaysian Navy
Based on the earlier report above, it seems that the second Scorpene progress is going well and is on schedule. In this case it may be possible Tun Razak will taste the salty waters of our nation before the end of the year instead of March 2010 as initially expected. Looks like this year seems to be a busy year of inducting new assets to the fleet for the navy, with the commissioning of two Kedah class patrol vessels and the submarines.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

No Longer 27 Units Is It?

On the day I beseeched here for the Government to continue with the building of additional patrol vessels for the Royal Malaysian Navy, the Prime has responded in this Bernama article that as expected this will depend on the affordability of the Government to continue the program despite the Ministry of Defence intention to continue. However what caught my attention is this is the first time it was officially stated that the number of units may now end at 18 units instead of the 27 units planned at the beginning of the program. This actually makes sense since the patrol vessels are being stationed at three different naval bases regionally, so to have three squadrons of six vessels each to patrol the area would be good enough.

I would rather use the savings from the deletion of the additional nine units to complete our frigate squadron to six, be it the same design as the existing frigates or of new designs. This is because however you may want the navy to be strengthened, additional patrol units is not the answer as no matter how you look at it, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency is actually being well equipped to undertake the intermediate and coastal patrol duties by getting their own offshore patrol vessels in addition to the Langkawi class (Ex-Musytari class) already in service. Therefore the navy should accept the number of eighteen units of patrol vessels for their fleet and now lobby for new strike units instead, be it the additional frigates or the Fast Attack Craft replacement in the form of Littoral Combat Ships, enabling the navy to concentrate on their core business, to engage enemy strike units with their own powerful strike force.

Friday, July 24, 2009

So Can We Proceed With Batch 2 Now?

Yesterday 23 July 2009 was the day the last unit of the Kedah Class Patrol Vessel, PV176 was launched and named as PV Selangor. It is a great comeback by the Boustead Naval Shipyard to ensure the completion of the first batch of PVs delivery despite the setbacks faced by the project in the early part of the projects. They have proven their mettle despite all the unfair critiscms and doubts thrown at their ability to finish the project with local expertise and materials. BNS now truly deserve the mantle of shipyard as they no longer act just as a dockyard for the navy ships repairs as per its reputation previously.

Credit : mcwood from milphotos

Nonetheless it is a bit puzzling to read in the article in The Star today above what seems to be a plea by the Chief Naval Officer Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar for the Government to proceed with the second batch of the patrol vessel, despite the Government pledging as per my earlier post that "once the first batch of six boats has been delivered to the RMN" as reported in this Bernama article. I personally expected that the contract or at least an MOU on this project would become one of the showpiece agreements to be signed at the LIMA 2009, especially since BNS had kept their end of the bargain. This is one promise the Government should keep as the justifications for the new batch of patrol vessels has been clearly stated by the Government in the article itself, notwithstanding the reasons given by the Admiral.

So if shortage of funds is a hindrance especially if this is due to a possible upgrading of its armaments, then lets proceed with the plain vanilla configuration as per the first batch as long as the vessels are builts. That is why it was designed as a fitted for not with platform, so that once funds becomes availables it can be up-gunned as required no matter how this concept has been pilloried by those ignorant of its value. We need the platforms for offshore patrol of our national waters, there is no need to second-guess that. What should be left now is a debate on how to name the new class, and can I venture it to be the Sabah class for both national unity and nostalgic sake.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Upgunning The CB90

Since the first four units of CB90h combat boats were bought by the RMN in 1999, it was generally assumed that the boats were only armed with heavy machine guns of .50 calibre mounted at weapon ring at the most. Although around 2001 the navy had tested the installation of Giat Industries 15 A Ultralight 20mm manual mount guns in Sabah waters, involving the firing of 1,200 shots at 600 to 1500 metres, nothing came out of this and the weapon was not installed on the combat boats. Thus even though these CB90s play an important role in the LIMA stations and in OPS PASIR, compared to other patrol boats the nation has these boats are relatively undergunned for their tasks as they have to depend on manually operated GPMGs while conducting their operations.

Nonetheless while trawling the internet, I came across a photo of two docked CB90s that I believe is in Sabah with their weapon system covered up. This piqued my interest and after further research, I found that the weapon system is the Bofors/BAE System Lemur remote controlled machine gun. This system actually debuted in LIMA 2005 and was demonstrated to the public, but I guess nobody picked up that the RMN had actually bought a few systems for their CB90s, possibly because these were based in Sabah waters as none of the CB90s based in the peninsular has been shown with the system installed. Personally I think that it was a good move by the RMN to installed such remote controlled system for the combat boats instead of manual guns since the boats can move at very high speed and I cannot imagine how someone can manually man a gun with all the pitching and yawing. Now if somebody can just tell me what calibre machine gun is used with the Lemur mount as it can be installed with a 7.65mm or 12.7mm machine gun or even an automated grenade launcher. Either way the combat boats are now better armed for their operations, so let's hope all of them will be similarly armed finally.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ouessant To Be A Museum In Malaysia?

Surfing the net to get further news on SSK Ouessant's fate, I am a little bit surprised to read a more recent French article as below that after translation seems to indicate that the SSK Ouessant is being prepared to be transported back to Malaysia to be displayed as a Museum ship and not retired as previously thought. Whether this is something that 'is lost in translation' or otherwise, let us wait if there will be any official announcement from the local authorities, probably during the welcoming ceremony of the KD Tunku Abdul Rahman in September.

The submarine Ouessant has fulfilled its mission - Brest

Saturday 11 July 2009
The last mission of the submarine Ouessant, and the departure of the first Malaysian Scorpene mark the end of the project "Ouessant Malaysia.

An end ... and a beginning

While a beautiful ceremony Thursday marked the return to the naval base in the last mission of the submarine Ouessant, the Tunku Abdul Rahman first submarine Scorpene type built by DCNS Cherbourg, Toulon left for Malaysia. The event marks six years of a human and technological rich and exciting for DCNS and Navfco. The project includes construction of two Scorpene submarines and maintenance of submarine Ouessant, the training of Malaysian crews.

Navfco owner of Ouessant

The training of Malaysian submariners is provided by the private company Navfco with staff seconded from the Navy. The Navfco has filed two crew submarine Scorpene, reserve personnel, instructors, staff of Staff

9 000 hours of diving

"More than 9 000 dive hours were devoted to training. We welcomed 170 students who have each made an average of 1 300 hours of diving. This happened in 3 phases: classroom training, simulator and the sea, "says Admiral against Christian Le Roux. "This 42 th release went very well, after four years, we are really in a school, it happens later between fellow submariners," said Captain Commander Benoit Lemire, commander of Ouessant.

A museum

In the coming days, we will proceed with the disarmament and ensure the safe Ouessant. However, its future seems sealed, an arrangement is underway between the two countries. Loaded on a ship dedicated the Ouessant join Malaysia to become a museum.

Six years and some key dates

30 October 2003: entry into force. 20 October 2005: the debut of Ouessant. 21 November 2005: start of training for Wednesday 9 July: End of the period of training at sea

Some figures

Major refit: 200 people, 400 0000 hours, 20 000 material visits, 150 000 hours of maintenance in post-major refit.

"This contract is a fundamental DCNS and its partners. This is the first time we offer a wide globalization of supply, "says Gérard Solve director DCNS Brest.
Below you can find the original article in French.
Le sous-marin Ouessant a bien rempli sa mission - Brest

samedi 11 juillet 2009

La dernière mission du sous-marin Ouessant, et le départ du premier Scorpène malaisien marquent la fin du projet « Ouessant Malaisie ».

Une fin... et un début

Alors qu'une belle cérémonie marquait jeudi le retour à la base navale de la dernière mission du sous-marin Ouessant, le Tunku Abdul Rahman premier sous-marin de type Scorpène construit par DCNS Cherbourg, quittait Toulon pour la Malaisie. L'événement marque six années d'une aventure humaine et technologique riche et passionnante pour DCNS et la Navfco. Le projet comprend la construction de deux sous-marins Scorpène, la maintenance du sous-marin Ouessant, la formation des équipages malaisiens.

Navfco armateur du Ouessant

La formation des sous-mariniers malaisiens est assurée par la société de droit privé Navfco avec du personnel détaché de la Marine nationale. La Navfco a ainsi formé deux équipages de sous-marin Scorpène, du personnel de réserve, des instructeurs, du personnel d'état-major.

9 000 heures de plongée

« Plus de 9 000 heures de plongée ont été consacrées à la formation. Nous avons accueilli 170 élèves qui ont chacun en moyenne fait 1 300 heures de plongée. Cela s'est passé en 3 phases : formation en salle de classe, sur simulateur et à la mer », explique le contre-amiral Christian Le Roux. «
Cette 42 e sortie s'est très bien passée, après quatre années, on est plus vraiment dans une ambiance scolaire, on se passe la suite entre confrères sous-mariniers », souligne le capitaine de frégate Benoit Lemire, commandant du Ouessant.

Un musée

Dans les jours qui viennent, on va procéder au désarmement et mise en sécurité du Ouessant. Toutefois son avenir semble scellé, un arrangement est en cours entre les deux pays. Chargé sur un navire spécialisé, l'Ouessant rejoindrait la Malaisie pour devenir un musée.

Six ans et quelques dates clés

30 octobre 2003 : entrée en vigueur du contrat. 20 octobre 2005 : fin du grand carénage du Ouessant. 21 novembre 2005 : début de la formation à la mer. 9 juillet : fin de la période de formation à la mer.
Quelques chiffres

Grand carénage : 200 personnes, 400 0000 heures de travail, 20 000 matériels visités, 150 000 heures de maintenance en post-grand carénage.
« Ce contrat est une opération fondamentale pour DCNS et ses partenaires. C'est la première fois que nous offrons une globalisation aussi large de prestation », explique Gérard Solve, directeur de DCNS Brest.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fate Of Ouessant Determined

On the same day our first submarine started on her voyage home, the following translated French Article has announced the fate of Ouessant after she finished her mission of training the Royal Malaysian Navy Dolphins.

09/07/09: On 9 July 2009, having completed its mission of building schools, Ouessant, last diesel submarine operating in France, docked at the naval base in Brest. On this occasion, a ceremony was held, chaired by ALFOST. The Ouessant taught students from the Royal Malaysian Navy since November 2005. A total of 146 Malaysian sailors got their qualification submariner during 42 trips to the sea and over 9100 hours of diving with the Ouessant.
I have also managed to find another article about the end of SSK Ouessant service as follows:
DCNS contributes to creation of Malaysia's first submarine force (2009-07-10)


Following a major refit by DCNS, conventional-propulsion submarine Ouessant was recommissioned in November 2005 for an at-sea training programme for Malaysian submariners. The submarine had been decommissioned in 2001 after entering active service with the French Navy in 1978. During the training programme, SSK Ouessant logged 9,000 hours under water. Today, on returning to port after its final mission, SSK Ouessant will have completed a major contribution to the creation of Malaysia's first submarine force.

The contract signed by DCNS and the Royal Malaysian Navy in 2002 called for the delivery of two Scorpene submarines and an extensive crew training package by DCI/Navfco.

At-sea training has been a key component of this package. Given that SSK Ouessant was built in the 1970s and considering the demands of repeated training exercises, special attention was paid to the condition of each item of shipboard equipment.

Almost 170 Malaysian submariners benefited from training aboard the Ouessant. In the course of the four-year programme, DCNS ensured nearly 500 days of at-sea availability and the boat spent over 9,000 hours submerged.

Following their training aboard the Ouessant, the RMN's first submarine crew took control of their first boat, KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, delivered on 26 January 2009. Coming soon, the first RMN Scorpene set off on the voyage to its home port.

Thank you for a job well done and have a well deserved retirement!

She's On The Way Home!

Bon Voyage Mon Amis!

July 09, 2009 23:13 PM

Malaysia's First Submarine Begins Journey Home From France

KUALA LUMPUR, July 9 (Bernama) -- Malaysia's first submarine KD Tunku Abdul Rahman left Toulon, France on its historical maiden journey to Malaysia at 11 am Thursday.The Embassy of Malaysia in Paris in a statement sent here, said the submarine was waved off by Malaysia's Ambassador to France Datuk S. Thanarajasingam.Also present at the ceremony were Defence Attache Captain Khairuddin Mohd Ariff and officials from Malaysia's submarine project team as well as French senior navy officials led by Admiral Yann Tainguy.The submarine consisting of 35 crew members was commanded by Commander Zulhelmy Ithnain of the Royal Malaysian Navy.The submarine is expected to stop at Lumut and Port Klang for a few days before continuing the journey to Sepanggar Naval Base in Sabah. It will also transit at major ports such as Jeddah, Djibouti and Cochin, before reaching Malaysia.The submarine project started when Malaysia signed a deal to purchase two submarines in 2002.The first submarine was finally completed with the departure of KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, which is expected to reach its Malaysian home in Sepanggar by early September.-- BERNAMA

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Anti Air Warfare Readiness Proven

My fellow forumer in Cari, Standupper posted a Bernama report on the successful anti air missile strike by KD Laksamana Hang Nadim using her Aspide missile against a target being towed by a Lear Jet. The interesting part of the report is that missile firing test was not conducted during the bigger Taming Sari or Kerismas naval exercises that normally features such an event, but during routine weekly operational exercise "Perang Pangkor". This is not only as a cost saving exercise but is in line with the operational concept of the navy's combat assets, that is fully trained and ready to be mobilised when required. The success of this exercise also proves that the RMN fleet is ever ready to face any threats, especially in anti air warfare, one of the four dimensions of naval warfare now and strengthens the competency level and combat readiness of the fleet to handle any conflicts in our national waters.

Voyage Home Delayed

Looks like its bad news for our Dolphins in KD Tunku Abdul Rahman who may have been looking forward to fasting and celebrating Eid Fitri at home. Jane's has reported in their webpage that the return of the Royal Malaysian Navy's (RMN's) first submarine, KD Tunku Abdul Rahman , to Malaysia has been postponed. The RMN CNO Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar told Jane's on 23 June that KD Tunku Abdul Rahman would now depart from France in August and arrive the following month in September, hopefully before Eid Fitri. Initial reports had stated that the submarine was due to arrive on 25th of the month but with the delay this will give the Works Ministry more time to better finish the submarine base in Teluk Sepanggar Naval Base that was only recently reported to be only 97 percent ready. This makes sense of the Works Minister statement that the naval base will only be handed over the RMN by the end of August. Never mind men, even if you all arrive after the Eid the celebrations will still continue. Eid celebrations is one month long anyway.