MMEA NGPC

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SHAH ALAM: MMEA NGPC. During his presentation of the 2015 budget, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak revealed that to improve maritime safety, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA/APMM) will be allocated RM393 million. The money is to improve operational efficiency and the purchase of seven new patrol vessels.

KM Kukup, picture taken in 2011
KM Kukup, picture taken in 2011

The tender for the new patrol vessels or New Generation Patrol Craft (NGPC) was issued in July and closed on Aug 25. Based on the specification, the NGPC will be a modern patrol vessel of about 45 meters in length from a proven hull design, seven days endurance and embarkation for 30 crew and 10 extra personnel. It will be equipped with an RHIB and the main gun will be a 30mm gun fitted in an RWS.

The latest generation MSI DS30 30mm gun complete with EO sight and remote operator console.
The latest generation MSI DS30 30mm gun complete with EO sight and remote operator console.

AFAIK, there was no extension to the tender and I was told that MMEA was already in discussion with the winning bidder. I am not purview to the winning bidder but I was told it was not the usual suspect, BNS.

Aselsan SMASH 30mm gun
Aselsan SMASH 30mm gun

As we have ruled out the usual suspect, the other yards that have experience in building patrol boats in recent times are NGV Tech Sdn Bhd – the builder of the RMN’s two training ships and Perlis Marine Engineering (PME). PME built five 25 metre boat for the Marine Police (delivered in 2010) and six 20m self righting rescue boat for MMEA (delivered last year). Two of the Marine Police PA-class boats are being operated in ESSZone.

OTO Melara 30mm Marlin RWS
OTO Melara 30mm Marlin RWS

We can immediately rule out NGV Tech as the yard is under receivership while PME remained in contention, though (to be updated). I am not saying other shipyards in the country will not be able to undertake the job but it will be a steep learning curve for the winner especially if their recent experience involved RHIBs or composites as the MMEA required that the NGPC hull is made of steel.

One of the 25m patrol boat built for PDRM by PME
One of the 25m patrol boat built for PDRM by PME

One interesting requirement of the NGPC is for the ships to be supplied with an UAV. Among others the specification of the UAV called for it to be fitted with an EO or IR payload, be launched via catapult and recovered by a skyhook.

The latest variant of the Scaneagle, Scaneagle 2.
The latest variant of the Scaneagle, Scaneagle 2.

The above specifications literally mean – at least to me only one thing, the Scaneagle UAV. I am not sure whether they can afford to have seven Scaneagle systems – one system normally has three EO and one IR – as one system cost around RM10 million each, meaning the UAVs alone will cost around RM70 million!

I am not purview to the actual cost of the NGPC but by extrapolating the cost of the 25m patrol boat bought by PDRM in 2010 (costing around RM10.4 million each), the new vessel may cost around RM20 million to RM30 million each, minus the other equipment. However, if they allocated RM350 million to the project, each NGPC could cost around RM50 million together with the Scaneagle UAV.

The NGPC is also to be supplied among other things with two 10 feet X 10 feet containers, of which one would be able to be carried by the ship at one time. Apart from the SAR, constabulary and fire fighting duties, the NGFC is also designed to be able to carry anti-oil spill operations which equipment will be supplied by the builder.

Damen Stan Patrol 5009
Damen Stan Patrol 5009

Based on the specifications especially the UAV and container requirement, I believed the best hull design is the Damen Stan Patrol 5009 (50 metres long, 9 metres width). It is longer than the specified length of the NGPC but I think the design – derived from the company’s own Fast Crew Supply ship -fit the requirement of MMEA perfectly.

Damen Stan Patrol 4207
Damen Stan Patrol 4207

Damen also has another well-proven hull design which may be suited for the NGPC which is the Stan Patrol 4207 (42 metres long, 7 metres width) in service with the Mexican Navy and other countries. The Damen boats cost around RM50 million each (without UAV) based on my research into the boats.

There are other proven 45 metre designs from notable shipyards such as Lursen (Jerung class FACs are a 45m Lursen design) and CMN (Perdana class FACs) which are similar to the requirements laid out by MMEA for its NGPC.

CMN 46 metre patrol boat.
CMN 46 metre patrol boat.

The Armidale and Cape class boats from Australia are also suitable but are much bigger than the stated requirement. The in-service date of the NGPC is 2017 and if the date is kept, MMEA will have the most modern naval vessels in Malaysia until 2019 when the first LCS is set to become operational. Costing more than RM1 billion each, the LCS should be more sophisticated.

If we were to spend around RM400 million a year for the next five years, MMEA will be able to replace all of its Sipadan and Gagah class patrol boats by 2020. By then the Sipadan class (ex Kris class) will be around 50 years old and the Gagah class will be 40. The NGPC project is designed to replace these boats.

–Malaysian Defence

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