Fast Combat Boats or FICs?

Deputy RMN Chief Vice Admiral Abdul Rahman Ayov (last right) being shown the top side of the boat. The RWS should be just below the mast.

SHAH ALAM: In his new year message to the service, RMN chief Admiral Reza Sany said that in 2020 the navy took delivery of 11 rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB), one multi-purpose boat (MPB) and six Fast Combat Boats (FCB) for Op Benteng operations.

We know the RHIBs were delivered for RMN Special Forces command, Paskal and the MPB is for Eastern Fleet Command. But there was no delivery ceremony for FCB last year and the nearest thing to come to mind was the contract for six Fast Interceptor Craft (FIC) with Gading Marine.

One of FIC of Polis Marine procured from Gading Marine. Gading Marine

It appears that the RMN has stopped using the FIC term – which also used by the MMEA and police and now called them FCB. In fact it want more FCB and also probably a slight modified version for the Paskal as mentioned by the Admiral in his new year message. That is a clear indication of the change of designation, though no numbers were announced. It must be noted that the RMN had previously tendered for a dozen FIC some two years ago and it went no where really as the local industry argued against the competition as it preferred suppliers instead of shipbuilders.

A CGI of the Gading Marine FIC for the RMN. Gading Marine

Anyhow Gading Marine has published CGI of the boats it has delivered to the RMN as stated by the Chief (above). From the CGI we can ascertained the FCB is an evolved design of the FIC delivered to the marine police. The main cabin look more aerodynamic and unlike the marine police it is equipped with a RWS likely for a 12.7mm gun.

Another angle of the CGI of the Gading Marine FIC. Gading Marine

I am guessing that although the RMN had taken delivery of the FCB, the official handover has not taken place as they are being outfitted with government furnished equipment. A social media post from Western Fleet command today confirmed that the boats are already with RMN though it appears that the RWS have not been fitted (below). The post referred the boats as FIC though.

Deputy RMN Chief Vice Admiral Abdul Rahman Ayob (last right) being shown the top side of the boat. The RWS should be just below the mast.RMN

RMN Deputy Chief Vice Admiral Abdul Rahman Ayob signing a document with a model of the FCB/FIC on the table. Note the RWS on top of the cabin on the model just like the CGI. RMN

Like the police’s two FICs, the FCB are also equipped with two gun mounts for machine guns in the rear deck. I believed the machine guns are redundant for the FCB as the RWS could take care of all shooting scenarios while underway. It is better to have M4 armed sailors to provide fire support when needed as they will be able to take more precise shots than machine guns at close distances. Dimension wise the FCB is just slightly longer at 18 m compared to the FIC at 17.6 m. And it appears that the RMN has yet to install the canvas roof at the rear deck.

Inside the main cabin of the RMN FSB. It is different from the police one. RMN

The CGI does not show a ramp like the ones on the Combat Boat 90H and the marine police Watercat M14 landing boats though as the FCB are propelled by waterjets it is likely that it could beach itself as specified by the FIC Op Benteng tender. (picture below)

The beaching capability as stated as in the Senarai Semak Untuk Pematuhan Teknikal.

Based on the social media post it is likely that the RWS will be installed soon and with that the official handover ceremony. Hopefully we will have a side profile pictures of the FCBs by then.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 1512 Articles
Shah Alam

16 Comments

  1. Very curious as to why Dockstavarvet‘a local agent (assuming there still is one) didn’t offer the CB-90? Costs or for other reasons? As far as I know; apart from garbage being sucked into the water jets (a minor issue) there aren’t any issues with the CB-90s.

    Also unknown if the RMN specified a need for ballistic protection for the FCBs or whether it was offered by the supplier.

    Almost 15 years after we trialed the Giat 20mm on the CB-90 and looked at a RWS; we’ve finally got one. Makes sense as pintle mounts are next to useless unless the target is very close or the boat is moving very slowly.

    Reply
    No idea really, Dockstavert is now part of Saab.

  2. It has a beaching capability, but no front ramp (it has a solid bow). So basically you have to jump from the high bow to disembark, and to get back on the boat you probably have to swim to the stern of the boat from the beach.
    http://gading.com.my/multi/images/companies/gmsb/FIC/gambo11.jpeg

    The specification
    http://gading.com.my/multi/images/companies/gmsb/FIC/brochure.jpg

    So basically 4 forces are using FICs

    – Marine Police – docksta IC14M, leisurecat interceptor 40, Lomocean Gading G16 etc
    – Kastam various FICs, mainly Lomocean designed
    – MMEA various FICs
    – TLDM docksta CB90 and now the Lomocean Gading G2000s

    Around half of the MMEA FIC are equipped with Oto Melara RCWS

    http://pgff.net/files/attach/images/1084/035/024/Billfish%20International%20Challenge%202015-z7.jpg

    http://www.rmsir.com/gallery1/var/albums/2013-Racing/Preparations/RMS13_0131.jpg

    If 2 batches of the gading FIC is to be bought, that would be a total of 32 new FICs. The current CB90s can be then passed to the planned enlarged PASKAL force, to act as a littoral seagoing IFV.

    With the new Gading G2000 FIC, plus all the current and recent new very large RHIB bought as FICs, malaysia currently have a total of about 120 FICs in all.

    The FICs is useful as an interceptor, relying on early warnings from various sensors. It however cannot be used as an enduring presence.

    Reply
    The CB-90s are likely to be retired apart from the ones they reengined

  3. I have the same question too. CB-90s are already in service with the Navy it makes little sense to introduce another platform that does more or less the same thing.

    I suppose having machine guns is probably adequate for those boats are intended to do, a small part of me wish that they are equipped with the mini torpedo tubes like those seen in Q’s “fishing boat” in Die Another Day.

    Reply
    It’s easy really as the tender was open to local shipyards only. I don’t think any shipyard in the country was prepared to offer the CB-90 or copies together with a track record of supplying them

  4. “the RWS could take care of all shooting scenarios while underway.”
    If the way that RWS is mounted according to the images, it doesn’t have 360 degrees angle of fire – the sensor tower is blocking – hence why the need for rear mounted MGs. BTW any idea what would be the RWS mount? Aselsan as on the bigger ships?

    Reply
    If the ship is underway the rear machine guns cannot hit any thing. If boarding another boat, they risk the chance of hitting a friendly at that range. If need be the boat can manoeuvre to bring in the RWS on target. It maybe Leonardo or Aselsan RWS based on the CGI and model of the boat

  5. ASM – “makes little sense to introduce another platform that does more or less the same thing”

    Not unless the existing platform is to be retired. Given the number of years they have been operated and their mileage; the CB-90s are probably pretty worn out by now..

    ASM – “having machine guns is probably adequate”

    Yes. Unless the operational requirements change; anything beyond a MG would be an overkill. Another vital piece of gear would be NVGs. The CB-90s had Sagem night gear.

    Reply
    They got a FLIR turret and a stabilised camera from the RWS

  6. “rear machine guns cannot hit any thing”
    If I were to guess, the MGs would probably be to cover the boarding party since the RWS is placed high up and centered at the cabin roof, the firing arc downwards might be limited if the suspected boat is tied up beside the ship. Also it is useful against perps trying to sneak up behind the ship where its at RWS blindspot. As for personnel with M4s, I’m no doubt the boarding team would be armed with automatic weapons anyway, I’ve even seen Polis Marin boarding team armed with MP5s and GOFs with M4/16s.

    Reply
    How is the machine gunners going to fire at that close quarters without hitting their own men? That’s why an M4 set to fire semi auto would be a better choice

  7. ” I don’t think any shipyard in the country was prepared to offer the CB-90 or copies together with a track record of supplying them ”

    The IC16M is actually a variant of the CB90, and has been built in malaysia, 4 units for kastam, 4 units for polis marin.

    http://scontent.fkul8-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/fr/cp0/e15/q65/109835515_1163967437319747_1743272472727873802_o.jpg?_nc_cat=108&ccb=2&_nc_sid=110474&_nc_ohc=Q43KT8H61NIAX-IRLoj&_nc_ht=scontent.fkul8-1.fna&tp=14&oh=7f4a803a5d85598dd34675f0d96ebfa4&oe=6032FF7C

    ” How is the machine gunners going to fire at that close quarters without hitting their own men? ”

    Those HMG is used to fire at hostile boats at ranges 100m and more. Sometimes there are swarms of boats and multiple bogeys need to be hit at the same time. Which is why USN CB90 has multiple guns mounted.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2f/US_Riverine_Command_Boat_with_RFA_Cardigan_Bay_MOD_45154444.jpg

    In the picture above, the USN CB90 is armed with 4x HMG (1x on RCWS, 2x on twin mount, 1x on single mount), 2x GPMG on single mounts, 1x minigun.

    Reply
    The FIC tender which Gading Marine won was open for competition for 10 days only. If the shipyard which built the 16m variant of the Combat Boat was not ready for the tender it would have not been able to enter the competition. Yes the US boats do have tons of machine guns but they also rely on the RWS to get hits really

  8. “without hitting their own men?”
    Perhaps more for intimidation purposes maybe? If our guys have automatics, and the perps have automatics, they aren’t gonna be scared to take us on unless we have something bigger aimed at them.

    Reply
    If you want some thing bigger to scare off the perps, a bigger boat is better

  9. Standard practice – whether for the RMN or MMEA – during boarding ops is for pintle mounted MGs to cover the boarding party which itself is armed with rifles. The thing to bear in mind is that even when not moving: a small craft will be rolling/pitching; making hard to hit anything – this is where the value of a RWS comes in.

    For want of anything else: pintle mounted MGs also provide a means of self defence against other boats and also enables warning shots to convince a fleeing boat to stop. The problem is that unless ranges are very close or the boat is moving slowly; almost impossible to enable accurate fire (same issue faced with firing ports on APCs/IFVs) with pintle mounts.

    Whether the intercepted ship is a foreign trawler or something else also makes a world of difference. Given the threat environment and operational conditions encountered; we have never had a need for more than a single MG on small craft. We’ve been lucky that we face other boats (smugglers, illegal fishing and immigrants) which try to avoid trouble; rather than ones looking for trouble.

  10. Hasnan,

    There is a clearly defined distinction on the roles the MMEA and RMN relatively perform. The key fact is that until the MMEA is adequately equipped; the RMN is the only agency able to shoulder part of the burden.

    The “overlap” is between the MMEA and the Marine Police. As has been mentioned previously it was intended to go away with the Marine Police during Badawi’s time. The problem was what to do with the personnel given the MMEA only had so many vacancies. Issues of rank and seniority also cane into play.

  11. P.S.

    All must have the ability to communicate with each other and there must be a clear chain of command.

    If a RMAF MPA detects a contact and the nearest friendly ship around is MMEA: it must be able to communicate with the MMEA ship without going through a time wasting and cumbersome process.

    Similarly a Marine Police boat should be able to communicate with RMN assets in the vicinity and a MNEA coastal radar which has detected a contact should be in a position to inform the RMN in a timely manner; should there be a need.

    All RMN, MMEA and Marine Police ships must have compatible radios and the right frequencies. They also need to have the numbers of their respective SATCOM sets. All must also be aware of what the other is doing – entails a proper unified command set up.

    Sounds obvious and clear doesn’t it but alas the reality can be different. Even within the MAF there are lingering issues; let alone between the MAF, MMEA and Marine Police.

    Reply
    There is also the lingering effect of which agency which has primacy on the enforcement of our waters

  12. @Hasnan Hashim
    Each agency has their own fiefdom which they are very reluctant in handover to another team that would have been more appropriate for the job. A Government that wants their good side won’t step on their toes in order to change and I don’t see this happening neither from BN, PH nor PN.

  13. Marhalim,

    I think it’s an accepted fact that the MMEA is the lead agency when it comes to law enforcement/constabulary type roles. There is a joint understanding that in areas where the MMEA has a minimal presence; other agencies fill the gap.

    The overall problem is it’s inability to fully fulfil its mandate due to a lack of resources. As we all know; what it should do and what it can actually do can be two very different things.

    The good news is that there is synergy; i.e. when a RMN ship has to leave or is diverted elsewhere; the nearest MMEA asset takes its place.

  14. “a bigger boat is better”
    I believe the various enforcement agencies have done their studies and had decided the FICs and OPVs are the right sizes of boats to successfully intercept, board & inspect, and to serve as deterrence to would-be perps whether they be low threat people & goods smugglers to higher threat insurgents & terrorists. Too large a boat for intimidation purpose and the perps will outrun it. Anything too small or underarmed will embolden perps to challenge our boys. A right sized boat with RWS and MGs pointing at them will show our seriousness and intent when closing in to board.

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