KD Mutiara on a Short Leash

SHAH ALAM: KD Mutiara, the first locally built hydrographic ship commissioned into the Royal Malaysian Navy, may well be the first vessel to be paid off under the service’s 15 to 5 plan. The ship is currently berthed at the Lumut naval base waiting her final orders.

Her fate is sealed as RMN has leased a former oil and gas supply crew boat, MV Aishah AIMS 4 as a hydrographic platform under a three year contract. The acceptance ceremony was conducted at the National Hydrographic Centre at Pulau Indah, Port Klang today.

KD Mutiara was commisioned on Dec 18, 1977 so it will be appropriate if her decommissioning comes next month, though that remained to be confirmed. She was supposed to undergo a refit program but that had been cancelled as she is slated for decommissioning.

On Jan 11, 2012, KD Mutiara caught fire while undergoing a refit at the MSE yard in Johor. She returned to service about 18 months later just in time to join the SAR for MH370.

KD Mutiara. RMN picture.
KD Mutiara. RMN picture.

The other RMN hydrographic ship, KD Perantau, is expected to be put back into service next month after undergoing an extensive refurbishment. She almost sank on Nov 18. 2014 while undergoing a routine refit at Boustead Naval Shipyard.

KD Mutiara prior to joining the MH370 search operations. Next to her is KD Perantau.
KD Mutiara prior to joining the MH370 search operations. Next to her is KD Perantau.

As for the leased hydrographic ship, RMN chief Admiral Ahmad Kamarulzaman Badaruddin said the contractor, Breitlink Engineering Services Sdn Bhd will be responsible to ensure that she will be available for duty for 300 days annually. A team of RMN hydrographers will be based on the ship to conduct the survey using the ship’s dual multibeam system.

Although he did not reveal the cost of the contract, Kamarulzaman said it was much cheaper than the cost needed to run the two RMN owned hydrographic ships.

MV Aishah AIMS 4, the new hydrographic platform of the RMN.
MV Aishah AIMS 4, the new hydrographic platform of the RMN.

“For example, the annual running cost for the two ship, KD Mutiara and KD Perantau are some RM8 million while refurbishment and refit could cost up to RM25 million. And those do not include the salaries and other payments for the 120 crew members. And the ships could only be at sea for 100 days per year.

“MV Aishah only need 11 crew members and our hydrographers will be able to concentrate on conducting the surveys. Under the contract, we will also need not pay anything if we are not satisfied with the data provided by the ship,” he added.

The bridge of MV Aishah AIMS 4.
The bridge of MV Aishah AIMS 4.

Kamarulzaman confirmed that KD Mutiara, which had been in service for 40 years will be paid off soon. The savings generated from her retirement and the leasing of the MV Aishah will according to him accelerate the 15-to 5 transformation plan.

KD Mutiara while undergoing refit at the Labuan Shipyard and Engineering. LSE picture
KD Mutiara while undergoing refit at the Labuan Shipyard and Engineering. LSE picture

More on MV Aishah AIMS 4 (HT to…)

IMO / MMSI number : 9710610 / 533000493

Owner : Aims-Global Engineering Sdn Bhd, leased to Breitlink Engineering Services Sdn Bhd

Builder : MSET Shipbuilding Corporation Sdn Bhd

Length : 44.75 m

Width : 9.60m

Gross tonnage : 438T

Max displacement : 690T

Towing pull : 20T

Engine : 2 x Cummins KTA50M2 (2x 1600bhp, total 3200bhp)

Max speed : 15knots

Economical speed : 12 knots

Endurance : 22 days

Max range : 7000nm @ 12knots

Accommodation : 10 crew + 19 others ( total 29 persons)

As for KD Perantau, this a report from Janes published in April.

A bridge modernisation effort by Raytheon Anschütz to install its Synapsis Intelligent Bridge Control (IBC) suite aboard the Royal Malaysian Navy’s (RMN’s) hydrographic survey ship KD Perantau is in progress.

New bridge equipment supplied by Raytheon Anschütz also include a Standard 22 Gyro Compass and repeaters, Reflecta Magnetic Compass, GDA 101 Echo Sounder, Synapsis Radar, Synapsis ECDIS, Synapsis Conning, BNWAS Watch Alarm system and a NP 5000 autopilot.

Additional systems supplied by other manufacturers include a Skipper EML 224 speed log and a Skipper DL 1 Doppler log, a Saab R5 AIS, and a Saab R5 differential GPS.

Raytheon Anschütz area sales manager, Uwe Berendes, told IHS Jane’s that he is hopeful that the service would consider modernising additional RMN ships with the Synapsis IBC following the completion of integration work on Perantau in May, with the ship expected to be delivered to the RMN in June.

Industry sources says her refurbishment cost following the partial sinking was close to RM40 million, much of it paid by BNS as the ship had been handed over to the company for the routine refit work when the incident occurred.

— Malaysian Defence.

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About Marhalim Abas 2222 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. The leased ship, mv aishah is basically an offshore supply vessel adapted for basic hydrographic survey.

    See my article on the LMS, and my proposed LMS-B3 ship is a more advanced version of what the mv aishah is.

  2. why not just bought the new one?

    Because it will take five years to get the allocation needed to buy a new one and there is no guarantee funding will be given

  3. Just read today news that Japan going to FOC retire patrol vessels to MMEA… I believe with Japan culture, the vessel still in pretty good condition but do our future maintenance cost have issue? Philippine got 10 vessels and i dun think it will facing major maintenance cost issue if compare with us which only have 2.

  4. Michael,

    It depends not just on the physical condition, but also whether the manufacturer still supports it and spare parts are still available for it.

    Even a well maintained ship must be overhauled, which can involve reconditioning works and replacing outdated equipment. Disposing of a vessel also costs money. All of which may lead operators to donate their equipment.

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