Does Bad Luck Comes in Threes?

PETALING JAYA: I do not believe so. But the lost of KD Pari due to a shaft failure on Thursday culminated a bad month or so for the RMN.

Although, the story below says it was damaged only, it is obvious the FAC-G will have to be de-commissioned soon as repairs would definitely comes into millions. Coming shortly after refit two years ago, it is doubtful the bean counters will allow it to undergo another SLEP.

KD Ganas, a Jerong class FAC. RMN
KD Ganas, a Jerong class FAC. RMN

NST Story here. Its a nice spin of course.

On Aug 31, KD Serang, a Perdana class FAC, caught fire, small one reportedly, after a short circuit while Pari’s sister ship, KD Todak had to be dry-docked after it sailed over a log, damaging its propeller two months ago.

The incidents above illustrated the point that the navy needs new ships fast. With six vessels on the drawing board and no new vessels forthcoming, one wonders what is the best solution for an express re-capitalisation exercise.

Of course, the ex-RBN light frigates and ex-Trinidad and Tobago OPVs came into mind. Yes, they might not be technically right and may come with hefty initial and long term support costs, but the fact remains, we need new hulls ASAP.

But who are we kidding right? Buying second hand things do not excite a lot of people especially those waiting in line to be the next Razak Baginda.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 1626 Articles
Shah Alam

43 Comments

  1. Not only does it illustrate the fact that the RMN needs new patrol assets, it also illustrates the fact that the RMN is not being given the needed ‘tools’ by its political masters to meets its heavy comittments and that vessels like the Jerong class are heavily overworked. Apart from a number of overhaul over the years at the Boustead drydock and the DRS-300 ESM, I’m not sure if the FACs have received any other upgrades.

    Reply
    I believe the boats are all equipped with GPS now. The US Coast Guard also did a SLEP for a class of patrol boats also but these ships ended up being retired faster. Perhaps our boys forgot that underneath the new paint and gizmos is an old ship almost bursting at its welds!

  2. A FAC-Gun trying to shoo away PRC Frigate sounds like a bad idea in the 1st place.

    RMN needs to developed better strategy with limited resources to shoo away effectively PRC Frigates from Layang-Layang Atoll.

    Reply
    One shoo with a FAC, its called intercept and deter if one uses a FFG or DDG

  3. After the PCs, the FAC G are THE workhorse of the navy. They are too old and too tired. There are other horror stories that I cannot/not willing to share. Suffice to say that they definitely need to be replace if they were to be tasked as it is now. But there are always other, higher priority items than the need of the armed forces. It’s getting ridiculous. As some of you’ve noticed, even if we do not intend to use force, what the heck can a FAC G do against a PLAN FFG? Lets not forget that PLAN have and still show that they are willing to use force to enforce their claim of sovereignty over the area.

    Its embarrassing to see the Admiralty has been reduced to begging just to have enough money to get the navy going. Bet my bottom money that this year budget will see another reduction in defence allocation. Hopefully I am wrong.

    Reply
    I am siding on the side of a small increase however most of it for development albeit to the detriment of operational allocation…

  4. Maybe we need some of these:

    http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-photo/rjdemp/1/1297955536/washtub-boats.jpg/tpod.html

    Reply
    LOL…there are many options out there but to be honest the fastest ship we can get our hands on to are the ex-Nakhoda Ragams and the modified River class ships. Cost and support issues aside, these ships could be in service within one year. It will take longer if we were to buy Oliver Hazard Perry FFG from the US. We can also take the two 75m training boats being built in Banting for patrol duties but I am not sure they will be ready within 12 months, 24 months is probably more realistic. Another option is to fast-forward the new frigate/LCS. That too will be a minimum of three years.
    We are paying the price for not planning and thinking about the future.
    How did we have so many shipyards but not a single boat built either for the RMN or MMEA or for that matter police and other agencies?

  5. Hello..mana ada crew for OHPs? OverHeadProjector maybe OK.
    The simple reason is that nobody will make money, I mean serious Cayenne Turbo n’ Bentley Flying Spur, Country Heights bungalow and standing orders at Hermes money if we just build simple vessels to do the job.

  6. Well, petronas is now investing billions in Brunei. Can’t we get the nakhoda ragam’s with a nice discount as a return?

    And there is the option of the Gomduksuri PKX if we still need a newbuild…

    With all of this happening, still the political masters look to expensive huge ships with fat kickbacks. Don’t they care to leave a legacy of a merdeka malaysia for the future generation?

    And all of this happening on our merdeka aniversary makes me very2 sad…

  7. How many patrol boats can be bought for the price of one SGPV/LCS?

    Reply
    It’s a difficult to say since the final price of the frigate/LCS remain unanswered and the fit of the new patrol boat.
    I am guessing that a similar vessel like KD Pari would be around RM100 million to RM200 million

  8. >As I said the powers that be loves those big, expensive toys..

    that’s becoz the foreigners know the game and are willing to pay huge commissions ….

    Just look at what Ombak Laut Sdn Bhd got for the scorpenes. Just that juicy commission is more that enough to give the RMN a completely new fleet of PC or OPVs.

  9. As I’ve said before ‘beggars can not be choosers’. We should get the 3 Nakhoda Ragam class ships immediately. I don’t think there is enough money or time for anything more than 3 ships in the short term. We could also look into a short-term lease of other navies’ ships.

    Why did we only build 6 of the Kedah class?! We should be building 6 more of the Kedah class right now! The new frigate/LCS will take awhile to get off the ground. With the Kedah class, we’ve got the design, we’ve already got 6 of the ships, and so on. Apparently someone up high thought they could pocket more money on a new ship… Urgh! So, frustrating!

    Reply
    Why they stop the Kedah class at 6?. They run out of money of course, they need the funds to pay for the other stuff, the Scorpenes for instance. And the fact that Kedah class wasn’t what they had expected.

  10. Is there any chances that the kd pari was sabotaj by china before it being provoke to chase the china ship? I mean during kd pari parking its part was damage by china commando..is it possible? Like charity ship sabotaj by israel before it move from greece port.

    Reply
    The jetty where KD Pari was berthed is off limits to civilians. Its most probably metal fatigue that the cause of the incident. But for a full investigation to really determine what happened will cost millions, we cannot afford that so lets say its bad luck. A full investigation meant that the ship be lifted into a floating dock and sent to Labuan where experts can dissect the ship inch by inch.

  11. Bukan the 3 nakhoda ragam already been sold to the algeria in 2009?

    No chance la for a new or second hand vessel within this 12 months. Unless the Greek/italian navies are desperate enough to offload some 80’s or 90’s type frigate due to their austerity measures

    Reply
    There is no official confirmation of the sale to Algeria. If Greece is willing to sell their Super Vita FAC we should accept them with open arms!

  12. avro,

    Were you making a joke or was that a serious question?? Why on earth would the PRC send a team to sabotage KD Pari? All of 16 of the FACs are aged and overworked, period.

  13. Do you think it’s more to bad maintenance than bad luck?

    Reply
    Bad planning mostly. I do not have enough information to say that it was badly maintained. Proper planning would have seen the ship replaced already from the front-line. It may suitable for patrol in Malacca and Sulu straits but not all the way out there. It was probably out there because it is the cheapest to operate that far away from home base.

  14. the fastest way to replace KD Pari and the other out of service FAC(G)s is to take back from the MMEA the 2 OPVs, ex KD Marikh and KD Musytari.

  15. @kamal

    nakhoda ragam is still for sale… It seems that the algerian sale is not true. IMO that is the fastest way now to get a new corvette.

    Ask the sultan politely to get it at a discounted rate as Malaysia already investing billions in new petrochemical projects in Brunei. Keep the name of the leadship as a goodwill gesture to brunei as the name nakhoda ragam is also a part of the penisular malay folklore…

  16. Approach singapore. Lease or buy the decomm sea-wolf class while u sort out your naval problems.

    Reply
    No lah, the Sea Wolf are as old as the Pari and its sister ships.

  17. Interim ma. I think maintenance-wise still good. On basis of friendship, ST can upgrade them for you at a discount.

    Reply
    Interim basis probably means 20 years here!

  18. First step we must fix the Kedah class with anti ship & anti air missile. At lease 3 Kedah class must duty at Layang-layang every time because that area very critical now.

    Build more Kedah class and must fix with full arms.

  19. It is interesting to note the current status of the Jerong class’ sister ships:

    Argentina’s 2 Intrepida class (from 1974) – still in service

    Bahrain’s 4 El Fateh class (from 1984-1989) – still in service

    Ecuador’s 3 Quito class (from 1976-1977) – still in service

    Kuwait’s 1 Al-Sanbouk class (from 1984) – still in service

    Singapore’s 6 Sea Wolf class (from 1972-1976) – retired (2008)

    Thailand’s 3 Prabparapak class (from 1976-1977) – still in service

    UAE’s 6 Ban Yas class (from 1980-1981) – still in service

    There are several other sister class ships that are still in service. Most are at the end of their lives though. 30 years is a LONG time for a ship to remain in active service.

    IMO we should restart production of the Kedah class and build 6 more ships. Maybe not the ‘best’ solution, but considering commonality, experience in construction, operation, etc., it is the ‘best’ option. And of course, in the long term we all know what is necessary. Remember the 5 Ps – Poor Planning Produces Poor Performance.

    Reply
    It will still take at least four years to get a new Kedah ship into the fleet.

  20. The Sea Wolf class is nearly as old as the RMNs FACs but they have not been as overworked in view of Singapore’s much smaller coast and territorial waters.

    Marhalim pointed out that the Jerong class was out there because it was the cheapest to operate. But what else is there to station on the Eastern coast of Sabah? There was a Kedah class in the vicinity which took up the chase after KD Pari had to head back to Layang Layang. The transfer of the Vosper PCs and the Marikh class has left the RMN severely weak in numbers to carry out its peactime duties.

    Reply
    I believe only the FACs are small enough to be based at Pulau Layang-Layang on a permanent rotational basis. The rest of the fleet is too big for the station. Groundhog Day patrol cost money and saps morale.

  21. Reply

    I believe only the FACs are small enough to be based at Pulau Layang-Layang on a permanent rotational basis. The rest of the fleet is too big for the station. Groundhog Day patrol cost money and saps morale.

    ___________________________________________________

    And yet still alot of people feels that FAC’s has no place in TLDM future…

    Get the Gumdoksuri PK-X’s quick. Build them at 2-3 shipyards in Malaysia for ToT and fast production times. For the price of 1 Kedah-class ship, you could fund 7 of the Gomdoksuri ships (and that is including all the armarments and missiles)

    Maybe the budget of the NGPV/LCS can be diverted to fund the Nakhoda ragam + Gumdoksuri + MPCSS/LPD + Kedah-class upgrades (as per my previous comments below)

    “” For the Navy LCS, as i previously posted on NGPV and SGPV topics, my fave ship is the south korean PKX gumduksuri. Fairly heavily armed (1x 76mm main gun, 1x twin 40mm 4x SSM, SAM), fast, quite long range for SCS patrols and most importantly USD40mil (actually 37.7mil) per ship, less than 1/7th the cost of 1 of the RMN’s proposed LCS/SGPV. If it is good enough for ROK Navy…

    With the planned budget for SGPV (USD300mil each for 6 ships?) RMN could get the 3 nakoda ragam’s (around USD600mil?), 18 PKX (40mil×18 USD720mil, to replace all FAC’s and add a little more. With 18 ships to build, the build can be spread to 2-3 shipyards in malaysia, giving more shipyards the experience/TOT of building a modern navy ship), 3 LPD’s similar to Makassar class (50mil×3 USD150mil) and still have USD330mil to spare on upgrading the kedah class ships for ASW warfare… Which is to me a more better way of maximising the value of the money spent. As we all agree malaysia has a long coastline (and a lot of hot spots like sipadan, spratly, selat melaka), which IMO can be better covered by 18 additional PKX (not to mention the nakoda ragams, LPD’s) rather than just 6 more SGPV/LCS. “”

    http://www.naval.com.br/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/pkx-4.jpg

    http://i193.photobucket.com/albums/z29/davidtou/PKX-A_1.jpg

    Reply
    Your argument is valid but it appear open houses are important nowdays

  22. if the 3 ragam still available for sale by all means go ahead, the fastest option and imo the least troublesome to integrate but not the cheapest though. At USd950 million for 3, half of the LCS budget

  23. ….. – ”And yet still alot of people feels that FAC’s has no place in TLDM future…”

    …….,

    As I have said a number of times, we simply do not know yet if FACs still have a place in the RMN’s future force structure – only the RMNs top brass can answer that. IMO FACs should still be operated, as FACs would be a much cheaper alternative than having a Kedah class on station in the Sulu Sea, and would be cheaper to buy and operate, but I have a feeling they RMN intends to replace all its FACs with the Kedah and LCS class. Apart from sea keeping limitations in rough sea states and a lack of range and endurance due to size restrictions, the traditional problems of FACs remain a low radar horizon due to a low freeboard, the effects of vibration on sensors at high speeds and as proven in WW2 and the 1st Gulf War, FACs are unable to defend themselves in the face of air attacks.

    Reply
    Those FACs in the 1st gulf war were not armed with SAMs.

  24. For comparison…

    Coastline:

    Indonesia – 54,716 km
    Philippines – 36,289 km

    Malaysia – 4,675 km (Peninsular Malaysia 2,068 km, East Malaysia 2,607 km)

    Vietnam – 3,444 km
    Thailand – 3,219 km
    Myanmar – 1,930 km
    Cambodia – 443 km
    Singapore – 193 km
    Brunei – 161 km

    Add to this a ‘territorial sea’ extending 12nm, an ‘exclusive economic zone’ extending 200nm, a ‘continental shelf’ with unspecified boundaries with our neighbors, the Selat Melaka, the South China Sea, and so on. This is not the calm coastline of Norway! With all of the fishing, offshore oil and gas operations, refugees, shipping, smuggling and trafficking going on, our coastline is a fast-paced environment. Much more needs to be invested in all levels of maritime defence: the TLDM, APMM, et al.

  25. We should approach debt laden european countries like Greece, Italy, Portugal and maybe Spain. With Greece in particular having to undertake tough austerity measure to remain within EU and staring at the face of imminent bankruptcy. Plus Greece has no particular external threat, that is what i would do. Knocking on their door and offer to buy their Vitas. Since they would run out of money soon if there are no new loan secured, two or three less naval vessels in their arsenal is the least of their worries. They are desperate for money now. We might even get it cheap !!

  26. Another angle to look at…

    “The assistance of the Royal Malaysian Air Force was also sought to dispatch a CN-235 maritime patrol craft from Kota Kinabalu…”

    The importance of maritime patrol aircraft can not be overstated. Had there been an MPA in the air, the Chinese frigate likely would have been detected long before it was ‘spotted’ already ‘encroaching on waters off Pulau Layang Layang’. I can only surmise that due to a serious gap in capabilities (not enough MPAs)the RMAF is not able to maintain continuous operations over the South China Sea. This incident highlights not only the need for more hulls in the water, but also more aircraft in the air.

    Rest assured that these incursions by the PLAN are part of a larger effort to measure the capabilities of Malaysia, and other claimants to islands in the South China Sea. The PLAN is monitoring response times, signals transmissions, etc.

    The TUDM should be working with the Vietnamese, et al, to monitor all PLAN vessels in the South China Sea. An intelligence sharing arrangement should be rapidly implemented. The TUDM should know every time a Chinese warship leaves port and be able to monitor its movements.

    I also question why there is not an early warning system in place on the islands.

    Reply
    Based on pictures of Pulau Layang2, I hazard to guess that they have some sort of a radar picture of the area.

  27. Marhalim,

    Even today, what FACs, apart from Bundesmarine FACs and a few others, are armed with SAMs? At the time of the 1st Gulf War, practicaly no FACs had SAMs – if they did, chances are it was a guy with a Blowpipe on his shoulders trying his best to maintain his balance on the deck of a pitching hull. The hull size of FACs would mean that apart from RAM [which few non-NATO navies can afford], only very short range SAMs can be fitted.

    Everything is a compromise, for our needs perhaps something slightly larger would be needed, like the Gumduksuri which ….. is so fond of or perhaps something with a similar displacement to the Marikh class – which was a design notorious for its seakeeping. I’m sure the people who would know best are the same people who operate our FACs and who have to go out to sea in them despite their age and design limitations, thanks to our political master who have bigger fish to fry….

    Some nice pics here –

    http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?182542-The-latest-large-armed-ocean-patrol-vessels

    Reply
    The vessels in the thread are technically corvettes or light frigates. Yes only recently FACs are equipped with SAMS, mostly RAM or the Israeli ones. Most of navies like us have not built new FACs so their legacy missile boats remained without missile defence against air attacks although they can now be upgraded with launchers for MANPADS instead of trying to fire them from their shoulders.

  28. We have lots of shipyards capable of building new and advance FACs, i dont understand why the government is being so calculative and stingy in strengthening our armed forces, especially in time of dire needs like what we are facing currently. We need more fast boats which are capable to operate on standalone missions, and able to engage much bigger ships, thus must be equipped with the latest 4D weapon systems.

    We also need more aircraft for the air force, be it fighters or maritime patrol with anti ship and submarine missiles.

    To realise a forward defence doctrine, we have no choice but to increase the capability of our navy and air force significantly.

    Reply
    A full transformation is needed whether or not the current government is capable, is of course its in their hands at the moment.

  29. Half of the Chinese netizens say:
    “Bravo PLAN frigate, scared away by a tiny gun boat.”

    While the other half are posting the submerge pic:
    “Congrats! Msia is receiving its third submarine.”

    Celaka betul…

  30. what happen to the laksamana class? cant they be stationed in pulau layang2 instead?

    Reply
    Yes, I forgot about the Laksamana class. Perhaps they could be stationed there. But since its a operational matter, I guess we will never know the actual reason.

  31. Maybe they just want to maintain the gunboat diplomacy, not trying to be on the offensive side by using missileboat diplomacy. If that is the case, they should put all the Kedah class there, while waiting for the government to approve more cheaper and smaller FAC size gunboats to be built by the scores of shipyards in Malaysia.

  32. Its not really important what we station there, as the whole point of having assets there is to make a political statement and chase away uninvited guests as part of reinforcing our claims. There was a Kedah class in the vicinity as it replaced the FAC which had to return to layang Layang. Whether or not the PLAN frigate was chased away by an FAC or by a CB-90 is irrelevant as the presence of the PLA frigate was to make a statement, trst our reaxtion time and remind us of their claim, not to engage in any hostilities.

  33. Taking a quick look at the overall picture…

    The PLAN has roughly 80 warships over 1000t displacement (not counting submarines). Of those, about 30 are part of the Southern Fleet (which is responsible for the South China Sea region, and, along with the Eastern Fleet, Taiwan). Some of those warships are the most modern in the PLAN inventory. By comparison, the TLDM has 10 warships over 1000t (2 Lekiu Class, 2 Kasturi Class, 6 Kedah Class). Even if we count patrol craft, etc., there is no chance of achieving parity in the number of hulls.

    IMO, the TLDM should focus, not only on increasing the number of hulls, but heavily on C4ISR and advanced technologies that will enable them to inflict a heavy toll on the PLAN in the event of conflict. While a war of attrition would definitely favor the Chinese, in a short, limited, and much more likely, conflict the TLDM must be able to hold its own without being simply wiped off the map. If, as part of PLAN scenarios, it looks likely to them that they stand to lose a significant number of warships in comparison to little gain, they will likely be deterred from instigating a conflict. In any larger conflict, it should be the TLDM’s goal to be able to ‘survive’ until international pressure forces the end of hostilities or until the US Navy (the ultimate guarantor of security in the region) responds.

    Reply
    Its not just the TLDM but the Armed Forces and the other security apparatus must be geared up to protect our borders, claimed or other wise. That said we cannot win an armed conflict with an aggressor with nuclear arms. In our scenario, it is best to avoid any armed conflict, even ceding territory if it what it takes to win in the eyes of the international world.
    Unless of course we also go for nukes….

  34. Lalok,

    There is a big difference between ”gunboat diplomacy” and ”testing the waters” and our resolve, which is what the PRC is doing.

    The big problem is what we are going to do if in some future occasion, an uninvited guest refuses to leave…. Then what?

  35. Re: That said we cannot win an armed conflict with an aggressor with nuclear arms. In our scenario, it is best to avoid any armed conflict, even ceding territory if it what it takes to win in the eyes of the international world.

    I disagree. It is possible to win an armed conflict with a nuclear armed foe. It depends a lot on what the stakes are. Is China willing to risk it all for Pulau Layang Layang? I seriously doubt it. As long as Malaysia firmly resides on the side of ‘Pax Americana’, there is no reason to fear China’s missiles. Even though we do not have a defence treaty with the US, there backing is as close to a sure thing as one can get. The South China Sea is the lifeline for Japan and South Korea. For that reason and many more, the US Navy will not allow the South China sea to destabilize.

    As for ceding territory, ask the Czechs how that worked out in 1939. It is NEVER a good idea to roll over so easily. What needs to happen in the South China Sea is for ASEAN to form a united front to negotiate with China. Negotiations should produce something like a 50/50 resources sharing agreement between China (China, Taiwan) and ASEAN (this share divided up between all legitimate claimaints – Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei). Other issues such as trade, ship traffic, security, and so on, should be negotiated as part of a comprehensive deal as well. In sum, Malaysia needs to work within ASEAN to gather support for such a plan.

  36. buy from PT.PAL i think is wise decision, they make ALBATRROS Fast Attack Board… or make join cooperation to build to vessel

  37. Herwan,
    The Greeks feared the Turks, don’t think they will ever sell their naval or air assets. Already there is trouble brewing with the gas drilling offshore Cyprus where the Turkish naval boats were despatched to prevent drilling.,

  38. On another matter…

    With the Kedah class we have:

    F171 KD Kedah
    F172 KD Pahang
    F173 KD Perak
    F174 KD Terengganu
    F175 KD Kelantan
    F176 KD Selangor

    A few questions:

    If there will only be 6 ships in the SGPV class, which state will be left without a ship? With 7 states left, someone will be left out.

    How was the order of the original names for the Kedah class determined? Random?

    How will the SGPV class ships be numbered?

    Reply
    The new ships will not be called the Kedah class as it will be different ship altogether. On how the original Kedah name was determined I have no idea. I believe the new LCS/Frigates pennant will be 31,32, 33, 34,35 and 36 to reflect its frigate size. The Kedah class pennant numbers reflect its role as a PV.

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