* Picture of Pahang taken in a visit to NDSB in 2004. KD Kedah was at sea during the visit
SHAH ALAM: KD Kedah, the lead ship in the New Generation Patrol Vessel project, was finally commissioned into the Royal Malaysian Navy on Monday (June, 2006).The commissioning was delayed for two years due to various reasons, mainly due to financial upheaval in the parent company of the main contractor, Naval Dockyard Sdn Bhd. (NDSB). NSDB’s publicly-listed parent company, Penang Shipbuilding Industries Bhd (PSCI) was by early last year, practically bankrupt. (It had a debt of more than RM1 billion compared to total assets of not more than RM300 million)..
It became so bad that even NDSB which was supposed to be paid some RM5/3 billion for the six PV including the total support package together with the privatisation of the dockyard at Lumut cannot even pay its suppliers including the main contractor, German Naval Group, which came out with the design and manufacturing solution for the project.
As the contract was between NDSB (which was given the authority by another sdn bhd company, I know its confusing but its Malaysian Boleh at work) and the Government, why the PSCI financial troubles effected its subsidiary has yet to be explained. I guess it will never be made public whether there was some kind of conspiracy which led to the troubles.
Only when Boustead took over in the middle of last year that the project came back on track.
The proof of the revival was for the second ship in the class, Pahang was displayed in Lima last year.
Apart from the financial woes, it must also be noted that the Kedah-class was the first ships derived from the Meko 100 design. Poland and Germany are building the similar vessels from the same design but with different capabilities.
The basic design seemed sound as the RMN and the Germans have found out, Poland’s financial woes had slowed down the construction of its ships.
Both European countries called their vessels corvettes befitting its size and weaponry.
Malaysian ships are designated patrol vessels although the six ships are as big as the frigates KD Jebat and KD Lekiu.
Kedah-class ships however, are lightly armed as if to justify its designation. No towed sonar, no torpedoes and with a slow diesel engine, the ships wont go more than 22 knots.
Even the four-engined boats used by the kretek smugglers are faster than the Kedah-class.
The second vessel Kapal Pahang is also ready and I expect it to be commissioned by year-end. The rest of the vessels? Only time will tell.
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