Walk Like An Egyptian

SHAH ALAM: Walk Like An Egyptian was a song made famous by an American band the Bangles. However, in building the Gowind corvette, the French firm DCNS and maybe the Egyptians, are beating our boys in Lumut.

Boustead Naval Shipyard started building RMN’s LCS, four months earlier than the first Gowind corvette build by DCNS for Egypt. The steel cutting ceremony for the first LCS was conducted at the IHX Metallix plant in Holland on Dec 3, 2014.

DCNS cut the first steel for the first Egyptian Gowind corvette on April 16, 2015. And some 18 months later on Sept. 17th, the vessel – Elfateh – was launched at the DCNS shipyard at Lorient.

The steel cutting ceremony as recorded by the RMN website.
The steel cutting ceremony as recorded by the RMN website.

Compare that to the LCS. Fabrication started in Lumut in late December, 2015 or early January, this year while the keel laying ceremony was only held on March 8. And almost six months later, no one will say officially about the launch date.

It was expected that DCNS will beat BNS to the punch. Lorient is a “hot” yard complete with steel cutting facilities while BNS is a “cold” one – it has not build any ships since the last Kedah-class, KD Selangor. Work on KD Selangor started in 2006 while the ship was launched in 2009 and commissioned a year later.

Furthermore, BNS has to rely on sub-contractors for the supply of steel and to cut them. It takes around three months for the shipyard to get the cut steel before it could start building any part. And that without any change in the production line.

If they are changes, invariably they will be in a new ship build, the steel cut three months ago has to be re-work or discarded completely, delaying the building process.

It is likely that DCNS also faced the same difficulties but with all the facilities within a shouting distance, any problems could be hammered out quickly.

Two Kedah class, KD Kelantan (175) and KD Selangor (176) berthed at Lumut jetty in early 2014. The ship on the other side is KD Mahawangsa. Malaysian Defence
Two Kedah class, KD Kelantan (175) and KD Selangor (176) berthed at Lumut jetty in early 2014. The ship on the other side is KD Mahawangsa. Malaysian Defence

Like us, Egypt is also building more Gowind corvettes in their own shipyard – three actually – but they had the presence of mind to get DCNS to build the first vessel so the French could sort out all of the problems first.

And problems have crop up, as in any new build. DCNS was expected to deliver the first Egypt Gowind in 2017 but now it could be delayed to 2019.

First steel cutting ceremony for Egypt Gowind corvette at Alexandria Shipyard on April 16, 2016. DCNS picture.
First steel cutting ceremony for Egypt Gowind corvette at Alexandria Shipyard on April 16, 2016. DCNS picture.

For the record, work on the first Gowind corvette to build in Egypt started at the Alexandria Shipyard on April 16, this year where the first metal, was cut.

BNS was supposed to deliver the first LCS also by 2019 but the word in the industry that it will only happen if we are very lucky.

RMN To Receive First Littoral Combat Ships In 2019 – Hishammuddin

LUMUT, March 8 (Bernama) — The efficiency of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) will be further increased when it received the first batch of its Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) in 2019, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein said.

I was told that BNS are having production difficulties (as explained in the 5th paragraph) and progress is not as smooth as have been projected.

A CGI of the LCS
A CGI of the LCS

Who knows what stage of the LCS will be now if the first vessel was build at Lorient instead of Lumut. But that’s water under the bridge now .

I have stated before that I am not very optimistic about the delivery time of the LCS. I sincerely hope I am proven wrong this time around.

Edited to add: The Auditor General visited BNS on Sept 1, probably his first visit to the yard after the report back in 2006 which detailed the NGPV travails. Perhaps the 2016 Auditor General report will include the audit of the project. The release in the RMN website is sparse on details and the pictures are also mostly on the officials. There is a picture of the LCS being built but its only served as a background.

To see the report – in Malay – go here.

* Note. The post on the steel cutting ceremony were among those that went missing after Malaysian Defence server crashed last year.

— Malaysian Defence

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