Run To The Hills

The keel of the fourth LCS in the BNS hangar for the ceremony today.

LUMUT: Run to the hills. Its now official, the RMN’s first of class LCS, the Maharaja Lela will not be able to make it to LIMA 19 next year as the ship is missing one vital piece of equipment. Infact Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) cannot confirm the delivery date for the ship as it is dependent on the delivery of the equipment and also the trials.

And no the equipment is not the NSM missiles or the MBDA VL MICA SAM. It is in fact the Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) which among other things provides integrated monitoring and control of ship propulsion, electrical and auxiliary plant management systems. Integrating these capabilities at the platform level can optimise operational effectiveness and contribute to crewing reductions.

The keel of the fourth LCS in the BNS hangar for the ceremony today.

BNS managing director Tan Sri Ahmad Ramli Nor said if the IPMS could be delivered early there was the chance that the Mahaja Lela could be handed over to the RMN by late 2019, ïf it passed all the sea trials of course. He said this during the press conference after the keel laying ceremony for the fourth LCS at BNS facility in Lumut today. Ahmad Ramli had said the ship will be at LIMA 19, last year during the keel laying ceremony of the third LCS.
Maharaja Lela at the BNS facility today. She is still missing her mast and other items. She is likely rusty after undergoing limited harbour trials.

He said Maharaja Lela had undergone limited harbour trials but it will not undergo further tests nor be able to make it to Langkawi for LIMA 19 until the IPMS is delivered, installed and tested.
A close up of Maharaja Lela at the BNS yard in Lumut today.

Asked whether he could confirmed that the ship could be handed over to the navy either in 2020 or 2021 – Ahmad Ramli said they will deliver all six LCS by 2024 as per the contract with the government. BNS is contractually bound to deliver the first of class LCS by 2019.
Although the hull of the second LCS looks complete, she is still missing a lot of her superstructure.

It was supposed to deliver the first ship in 2017 but this was brought forward to 2019 under variation of the original contract first announced in 2011. Under the amended contract, it was supposed to deliver the first LCS in 2019 with one each from 2020 with the last two delivered in 2024.
Another angle of the second LCS as seen from her starboard side.

Asked to explain the problems affecting the LCS project, Ahmad Nor said apart from the complexities of building a warship completely in country for the very first time, the construction was hampered by delays in getting government-furnished equipment like the IPMS and other systems (NSM and MICA) as their contracts have not been finalised even though the ship building process has started . He did not identify the make of the IPMS selected for the LCS, however.
The Kedah class was fitted with the CAE Canada IPMS though I am told that it was not the same system selected for the LCS.
The hull of the third LCS and the keel of the fourth LCS as seen from another angle.

Ahmad Ramli and RMN chief Adm. Kamarulzaman Badaruddin, who was present at the event, confirmed that the contract for the MICA missiles has not been signed though contracts for the launchers have been signed. Contracts for weapons must be signed through a government to government deal unlike launchers which could be signed between private companies. This was similar to the NSM deal.
BNS workers posed for pictures with Maharaja Lela at her launch in August, 2017 The workers are under strict order not to share the pictures of the ship during the construction.

Despite the current difficulties, Ahmad Ramli said he was confident that construction and delivery of the six LCS will go ahead as planned once all of the equipment ordered are received.

Analysis
The delays in finalising all the sub-systems while not fatal to the whole project, clearly hampered BNS ability to adhere to its contractual commitments. Based on the delivery date of the IPMS, late this year, it is likely that the contract for it was signed in late 2016 or even later. We have seen this before with the NSM and in fact, the contract for the MICA missiles has not been signed yet.

I have been accused of being negative whenever I say that I am fearful that things or contracts for the military will not come out as planned. Honestly I prefer to be wrong but strangely I have been more than prescient in this matters. I am not celebrating as I realised that we dont have enough money to spend on defence let alone be wasteful due to indecisions or shehanigans.

The LCS major equipment detailed. RMN graphic

Most of the fault for the delay, rest with the government (previous one) of course though BNS should share some of the blame as it promised the moon and the stars. While I understand the need to build up the local defense industry and create local jobs and economy, the needs of the Armed Forces should always come first. In the end, they will be the one to be blame of course – operating rusting buckets or flying coffins.

If only we had followed the Egypt route….

— Malaysian Defence

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17 Comments

  1. When the second LCS launch ceremony?

    Reply
    I did not managed to find out about that, based from what I see of the second LCS, I think it could be next year.

  2. @ marhalim

    Even if we go the egyptian route, lack of funds for important systems like the IPMS will delay the project no matter where the ship is build. This delay IMO is not within the controls of BNS.

    IMO future potential delays can be left unreported, as even BNS is confident it can recover the delays and deliver the ships as scheduled.

  3. Welcome NGPV episode 2

    Reply
    Not really as I mentioned before the money for the NGPV was taken out to pay for other things instead of the ships. Very similar to the 1MDB scam

  4. In this case, can BNS be penalised for late delivery if the IPMS modules aren’t delivered yet?

    Seems like the reason this is out was because they wanted to say “Hey Government, please handover the IPMS for me to complete the ship, or else don’t chase after me”.

  5. Wait. When the Maharaja is launch last year, her mast is already install. Now their remove it? I don’t know anything about ship construction but can anyone explain me why their do that. Is it because of this IPMS thingy?
    Also Boustead should take time building this ship. Delay the keel laying and launch date if needed. Rather see the ship complete and reliable than share the fate of Soviet ship during dissolution of the soviet union. Also the shipyard looks really cram.

    Reply
    They took off the PISM so it can fit into the shipbuilding hangar. BNS cannot delay the keel laying or launch as this are part of the contractual obligations, also as per government regulations they need to show progress so they can invoice the government for the work done. Otherwise they wont get paid. They maybe be able to get a waiver for not adhering to the contract if they can show if things were beyond their control, construction of the hulls are likely solely their responsibilities.

  6. And we have not even finish trash-talking the Chinese LMS and its boatload of “shortcomings” compared to the glorious LCS… Would be most amusing (and hilarious) if the unwanted child LMS is delivered before the LCS… Already hitting a (1st?) snag even before sea trials. A Malaysia’s version of the INS Vikrant saga in the making! Woot!

  7. Now, will anyone blame my fear of NGPV case repeated?
    Ok…the root of problem is different, but the result still the same.

    Marhalim: “If only we had followed the Egypt route….”

    I agree with you 10000%. Billions of ringgit is wasted to support local defence industry. Even many are skeptical at the beginning.

  8. Marhalim: “Not really as I mentioned before the money for the NGPV was taken out to pay for other things instead of the ships. Very similar to the 1MDB scam”

    No but it could well be that funds were diverted to pay for “national obligations” that could not be delayed. At the end of the day, funds for the LCS could have been released late or in lower amounts, which would mean reducing specs and hoping the public wouldn’t notice.

    BNS would be well aware of the lead times for each component and would have been duly advised by the vendors. It would have been the finance ministry’s fault for not releasing the funds.

    kerberosWXIV: “And we have not even finish trash-talking the Chinese LMS and its boatload of “shortcomings” compared to the glorious LCS… Would be most amusing (and hilarious) if the unwanted child LMS is delivered before the LCS”

    It would not be surprising if the LMS was delivered first. The LMS is a much simpler ship. It is quicker to build and there are fewer, smaller contracts to award for its components. The components themselves would have shorter lead times. The reasons for the delay are beyond the control of the yard and beyond any fault of the design. A political decision was made to pay for the LMS ahead of the LCS, even though the decision to acquire the LCS came first.

    Reply
    The NGPV thing is for real, money was paid in advance and was used to pay for other things leaving the ships incomplete. It is documented in the Auditor General report.
    As for the LCS, some of the sub systems – weapons and other stuff – were not finalised as their agents went to see the PM cum Finance Minister to plead for their case, one after the other. I have written about the MICA/Exocet saga before (some posts are missing following the server failure). Apart from this, contract signing could also be delayed through bureacratic reasons, for example, the NSM one was dragged further due to the offset obligations, which is mandatory of course. It is possible that the IPMS contract was also delayed due this though I must say I have no idea why it happened in the first place.
    Even if as you says the contracts were delayed as the money was used for other “national obligations”, the fact of the matter, the contracts were left unsigned, leaving many holes in the blue print.

  9. The LMS will most likely be delivered sooner than the LCS. I understand most of the internal fittings of the LCS have not been installed yet even though the ship has been launched, which if true is very peculiar as normally ships are significantly outfitted before launching.

    Agree with Marhalim that the NGPV is a totally different ball of wax altogether. Different circumstances. Nevertheless, if I recollect correctly, the average delay of the 4 locally built NGPVs (based on the renegotiated contract with the Government) was around 6 months, with PERAK delayed for 3 months and SELANGOR 9 months due to spares availability issues (ship was the victim of parts cannibalisation to the earlier NGPVs).

    If half of what I hear is happening in Lumut is true, I would expect a 18 month to 2 year delay to the LCS program…. minimum. Bear in mind, this is assuming no electronic integration issues surface with the CMS and its various sensors and effectors, which if it does, may drag the whole program indefinitely. Note that KEDAH and PAHANG encountered a 2 year delay due to CMS issues, even though the platform was completed on schedule by Blohm + Voss.

    Sad…..

  10. Meh,

    I was told that the mast during launch was a mock up and not the real thing… Dunno if true or not. But I tend to believe my informer… LOL

  11. What a menacing close up view of Maharaja Lela there.

    Better late than never.

    Even the KD Lekiu frigate, built in the UK by Yarrow Shipbuilders of Glasgow were delayed before it could be handed over last time.

    Lekiu was launched in December 1994 and were only commisioned in March 1999.

    If we cannot paraded her during LIMA 2019, there would be another LIMA for sure.

  12. Well contractually if BNS have smart lawyers they would have made delivery dates contigent upon all parties adhering to the project schedule. So in this case BNS can seek more money for government delayed equipment for any cost overrun

  13. I also find it extremely funny that the IPMS, which is an integral part of the platform, is excluded from the scope of supply of the shipbuilder. While I can understand if components of the combat system being Government Furnished Equipment, allowing the IPMS to be GFE is tantamount to giving the yard a very convenient backdoor to escape. As the ship is highly automated, many problems in platform integration will be dependent on the IPMS. As the IPMS is GFE, what would prevent BNS from saying that any fault resulting from the IPMS is not its fault as the item is GFE and selected by the Government?

    Reply
    The government owns LTAT, the owner of Boustead Bhd, the owner of BNS. Whatever happens, it is an own goal…

  14. not many details on the 2019 budget

    but on the development budget (or CAPEX) for “security sector” is put at RM7.1 billion. No idea if this is for defence only or including police and MMEA. What we know for 2018 the development budget for defence was only RM3 billion

  15. BNS should learn from PT PAL. Now the Indonesians already put KRI Martadinata on active duty. The second KRI Ngurah Rai already on sea trials. Their type 209 Chang Bogo already in service also?

  16. Only have this to say… Can we get the right people in MinDef to furnish the right advice to the PM ? The agents may be there to lobby but what the heck, deny them and their minions access to the PM Finance & Defence Ministers who can then deliberation on their own with these independent advisors

  17. Delaying in project it is normal in Malaysia, but if complete within schedule or advance complete from the schedule it is never happen in Malaysia. No worry we expect its will delay. About the NGPV second batch we expect it will never happen. The NGPV second batch just the retoric from the previous government so much money spent for politic to prepare the past GE14 and eventually they lost the power. The new government may not experience to handle such issues in short time. I bet the NGPV will not materialise and SGPV first unit will delay,its will happen in 2019, but to see it in LIMA just forget it…

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