M’sia’s first China-made patrol craft joins Sepanggar fleet
Published on: Saturday, January 18, 2020
By: Stefyanie Myla Micheal
The new littoral mission ship, KD Keris.
Kota Kinabalu: Malaysia’s first Chinese-made large patrol craft KD Keris joined the fleet at the Navy’s Eastern Fleet Command Headquarters in Sepanggar, Friday.Head of State Tun Juhar Mahirrudin and Chief of the Navy Tan Sri Admiral Mohd Reza Mohd Sani were among the dignitaries present in full military tradition to receive the nation’s first littoral mission ship (LMS) arriving from China.
Mohd Reza said with the arrival of KD Keris, it will bring a total number of 17 vessels operating in Sabah and Sarawak waters this year.
“The 68.8-meter vessel with an overall beam of nine metres, a hull draught of 2.8 metres will displace about 710 tonnes at full load. It can attain a top speed of 22 knots and a standard range of about 2,000 nautical miles (3,704 km) at 15 knots,” he said.
He said the ship with 45 crew could operate for 15 days at sea and part of the Malaysian Navy’s transformation plan that intends to bring down the number of ship classes operated by the navy from 15 to five. Many of the current classes are now obsolete and present an expensive upkeeping challenge.
“Most of the existing ships are old, so their availability is low and operational costs are high. Some of the operational ships are less available because they have been given extra duties.
“Two years ago, KD Baung was on duty for more than 230 days at sea and that’s a bit too long. Maybe the crew was fine by that, but how about their families? These are some of the reasons we need new ships. Ships like KD Seri Johor had been in service even before I joined the Navy and are still in service,” he said.
Mohd Reza said the new vessel also coincides with the primary objective of enhancing RMN assets, which is to further strengthen Malaysia’s water security protection network, especially East Malaysia,” he said.
“This addition would also expand patrol areas along the coast, especially in the South China Sea and at the same time improve the safety of the maritime community,” he said.
He said the LMS will be operational in Sabah and Sarawak waters and does not matter whether it will be in eastern Sabah waters or otherwise.
“It depends on requirements. For example, if the ships in Sandakan have a problem, we will help with ships from here (Eastern Fleet Command Headquarters in KK),” he said.
Speaking at a press conference, Mohd Reza said the second LMS, Sundang is expected to arrive in Kota Kinabalu in April this year, followed by the third and fourth LMSes in May and August 2021.
According to him, this year would also see a new system that will be place at the Kota Kinabalu base.
“The UAS (unmanned aerial system), involving 12 UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), will be used in Sabah waters and we expect to take a year to familiarise with the new system before we use them for operations and it will arrive in February, after we made the agreement to acquire them last year.
“For starters, we will base them in KK and use them on land first. After we’re well-versed with them, then only we will place them on a ship…wherever the ship is. Whether in eastern Sabah, Kuantan or Lumut, depending on the current requirements,” he said.
The ceremonial event includes KD Perak, KD Kelantan, Fennec helicopters of the 502nd squadron and 45 RMN personnel. Also enlivening the occasion were members of the East Fleet and family members of KD Keris crews.