SHAH ALAM: Engines, Its the Engines. Malaysia and Japan on Wednesday signed the agreement for the donation of two Japanese Coast Guard ships to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (APMM). The agreement was signed during the PM working visit to Japan.
The two ships donated are Okii and Erimo, both commissioned into service of the Japanese Coast Guard in 1989 and 1991, respectively. So by the time they arrived here next year, to be based in Kuantan and Kota Kinabalu, they will be around 27 years old.
I believed that we accepted this high mileage ships as they are fitted with MTU diesel engines (I am wrong these boats are fitted with Japanese made diesel engines. HT to …). As most of the ships in APMM and the RMN are equipped with MTU engines, only ships fitted with these engines are likely to be chosen even if they are donated, free of charge.
It is for this reason, I believed the Government should start talking with Singapore over the possibilty of getting the Fearless class patrol vessels for the APMM once they are retired from Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN). These boats are also fitted with MTU engines.
Although Singapore has not announced its plans for the Fearless class, it is likely that they will be retired once its replacement, the Littoral Mission Vessel are put into service.
The first LMV, Independence, is undergoing trials and by all accounts will be commissioned on schedule in May, next year.
Independence, the lead ship of the Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN’s) Independence-class Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV) development programme, is on track to be commissioned in May 2017.
Lieutenant Colonel Chew Chun-Chau, head of the LMV programme, told media during a sail out aboard Independence on 30 September that further testing of the ship’s combat management system (CMS) and mission systems will be conducted over the following months leading up to its planned commissioning.
Two more are undergoing seas trials, Sovereignty (launched on April 16) and Unity which was launched on Oct 13. In May, ST Marine laid the keel for the fourth LMV. This means by 2020, the RSN is on track to induct all eight LMVs into service.
As the LMVs were built to replace the 11 Fearless class patrol vessels, it is likely that the RSN will retire the older boats, first, within the next three years. As the RMN has no desire for second hand boats, the redundant Fearless class will be a perfect fit for APMM.
Although APMM is getting six NGPCs and three OPVs within the next three years, it still needs to replace most of its fleet at the same time though money is very short currently. That’s is why getting the Fearless should be a priority for the APMM.
It should have no problems operating the Fearless class boats as they are also fitted with MTU engines. However, as the boats are fitted with Israeli made search radar and weapons director, APMM need to find new sensors for them.
APMM may also need to replace the main gun, as RSN may have put the 76mm guns of the Fearless class on the LMVs. It could opt for the 30mm SMASH RWS gun being fitted on the NGPC, however.
Industry sources when contacted said APMM probably need around RM15 million per ship to refurbish the Fearless class with new sensors and guns, if they get them. So for 10 Fearless class boats (11 remained in RSN books), APMM only need around RM150 million – the cost of three NGPC, which is still to me, a pretty good investment.
Furthermore, if in the future, funding is made available for more NGPC, the sensors and guns bought to refurbish the Fearless class, could be transferred to the new boats, reducing the capitalisation cost for the APMM.
The average age of the Fearless class is around 20 years, younger than most of the vessels already in service in APMM and the RMN. As this boats are mostly deployed around Singapore only, they are likely to be in a much better condition than the Japanese Coast Guard ships we are getting.
So why are we not talking with Singapore already? I have no idea.
* An earlier version of this post stated that the first vessel is call Oji. It is infact called the Oki. The earlier version of this post also stated that two vessels are probably fitted with MTU diesel engines. This is in correct, they are fitted with Japanese diesel engines.
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