Keris Mixing It Up In The SCS

KD Keris arriving at the Sepanggar naval base jetty for the welcoming ceremony

SHAH ALAM: KD Keris in SCS. It appears that KD Keris is no longer involved in Ops Benteng Laut Timur. The China made Littoral Mission Ship has been found operating in the South China Sea, tracking a China Coast Guard ship nonetheless. Apart from Keris, another RMN ship, auxiliary Bunga Mas Lima was also involved as the CCG ship appeared to harass oil drilling and supply ships some 44 nautical miles off Sarawak.

Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative in its latest posting tracked Keris as she patrolled around Gugusan Beting Patinggi Ali (known internationally as Lucania shoals).

KD Keris

The China Coast Guard (CCG) and Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) are involved in another standoff over hydrocarbon exploration in the South China Sea. China Coast Guard ship 5402 harassed a drilling rig and its supply ships operating just 44 nautical miles from Malaysia’s Sarawak State on November 19. Malaysia deployed a naval vessel in response, which continues to tail the 5402. The incident seems to have followed two weeks of increasing tensions between the CCG and RMN in the area. An analysis of AIS data from Marine Traffic and satellite imagery from Planet Labs reveals this high-stakes game of chicken that would otherwise have remained under the radar.

CCG 5402 left Hainan on October 30 for what has become a standard Chinese patrol route. It stopped at China’s artificial island bases on Subi and Fiery Cross Reefs before taking up station at Luconia Shoals in Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone on November 2. CCG ships have maintained a nearly constant presence there in recent years, facilitated by the nearby logistics hubs in the Spratlys. On November 10, the 5402 patrolled the oil and gas blocks west of Luconia Shoals, passing by the Sapura Constructor, an offshore construction ship operating in the area. The RMN’s Bunga Mas Lima, a naval auxiliary ship that had left Sabah a day earlier, arrived at Luconia Shoals hours later and shadowed the 5402 for at least a few days. Its AIS broadcasts were spotty during this period, but a satellite image from November 13 shows the ships just 3 nautical miles apart.

A 2016 picture of Bunga Mas Lima from its own Twitter account.

Keris involvement.

At just over 40 nautical miles from Sarawak, this is the closest to shore AMTI has ever documented such Chinese harassment. The Bunga Mas Lima was still patrolling the area and would remain near Luconia Shoals for another two days. But within hours the RMN deployed a second ship—the more capable KD Keris, which steamed straight from Sabah to the Gunnlod. Ironically, the Keris is the first of a new class of littoral mission ships built for Malaysia in 2018 by a subsidiary of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation. The Keris stayed near the rig for about a day before following the 5402 back to Luconia Shoals. The two ships maneuvered around each other there for several days. When the 5402 went for another patrol to the west of Luconia Shoals on November 24, the Keris followed.

A CB90 being loaded on board Bunga Mas Lima in 2016. BM5

To be updated.

— Malaysian Defence

If you like this post, buy me an espresso. Paypal Payment

About Marhalim Abas 2207 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. I think this PRC made lms should patrol melaka straits not south China Sea or else PLAN or CCG would jammed the vessels sensors..

  2. Yay! Bravo to the crews of KD Keris!

    Take that china coast guard!!!

    Dont bullshit that 40nm from sarawak coast is your historical territory. You only knew about all the features in South China Sea because Royal Navy bothered to chart the area. Even when we first put an offshore oil platform way back in 1963, there is no chinese fishermen plying that area, so dont mention about hundreds of years ago.

  3. Although not really comparable to CCG 5402, with Keris n BM5 there, we showed some resilience..Surely some message will be conveyed to the other side..

    @fadiman…no need to jam them cuz Keris’s sensors already cheap and low quality prompting RMN to look for another platform for LMS batch 2 (if any).

  4. Maximum wayang. Don’t tell me this hasn’t already been negotiated with the PRC. Otherwise goodbye to the other ships building in China.

  5. As overpriced as it is, at least its able to do patrol our waters. Better than the missing in action LCS.

    Can the NGPV be upgraded / refurbished?

    Yes but its a long story

  6. back on KD Keris

    The are doing a sterling job with the asset on hand, even though it is build by the same country that is harassing us.

    Having to use the BM5 and KD Keris emphasise the fact that we need more hulls in the water. We need to increase MMEA budget to properly push off the increasing harassment by Chinese Coast Guards. Still it is not an excuse to waste money on more LMS68 (the ship is functionality OK, just the price of it). Must prudently spend the limited budget to get as many patrols ships as we can. Also if BM5 is good enough for for that task, we should look at buying used oil and gas Offshore Support Vessels (OSV) as a quick way to have more hulls for MMEA.

  7. a good comment from an ex TLDM bigwig

    my comment on this.

    Yes it is about time that there is a clear separation of duties of TLDM and MMEA. It is about time. How we go about with this is also very2 important.

    1. Give MMEA the operational budget that it needs. Give a surety that MMEA will get at least USD100 million in Development Expenditure every year till 2030.

    2. Fighting warships by TLDM, patrol ships by MMEA. That does not mean that we need to arm the Kedahs. That needs to be very2 clear. It should mean that all patrol only ships like Kedah and also Keris class ships to be painted white and passed on to MMEA. TLDM to concentrate on getting the fighting frigates that it is overdue to receive. Then getting a potent 5000+ ton frigate to be our flagship and lekiu/kasturi replacement poat 2030. Also we need to beef up our underwater force. More scorpenes and to look at small 500+ ton submarine to give us the numbers. A reboot of the LMS should be a small but armed and armoured ship that can take the fight to FIAC swarms, at a cost half of the LMS68. My personal preference would be a damen FCS5509 with armoured bridge and accommodation area, 2x CS/AN3 30mm RCWS, 4x CS/LM6 0.50cal HMG, with 2 flat TEU mounting 32x CM-501GA/CM-501XA missiles/loitering munition and 8x C-705

    3. MMEA need to have the 20 large OPVs it needs by 2030. OPV1800 batch 2, large but value for money OPVs like these Tae Pyung Yang-class OPVs from South Korea. It has a length of 140m with a full displacement of about 4,000 tonnes. Each cost about usd37 million
    A few large OSVs as OPVs that can also be used for maritime reacue and salvage, MMEA large OPV fleet can achieve the 20 ship target by 2030. i would prefer
    6x damen 1800 OPV
    6x ex kedah class OPV
    6x Tae Pyung Yang-class OPV
    3x OSV

    To have ships that is cheap operationally and has long loiter time, we need to seriously look at wind/sail powered patrol ships. These would be useful for enduring presence and deterrence to foreign fishing vessels.×1553/×688/

  8. Proton x50 cheap, bigger, faster n SUV class. It more price valuable than Honda city, Toyota Vios or Nissan Almera.
    Maintenance cost? RMN look for SUV or just class B Sedan?

    Maybe I’m wrong…

  9. If we want something large but cheapish to go up against large CCG ships, just get more BM5/6s.

    For MMEA its ok

  10. Fadiman – “I think this PRC made lms should patrol melaka straits not south China Sea or else PLAN or CCG would jammed the vessels sensors..”

    This doesn’t make sense. First of all the ships are performing peacetime duties; which includes intercepting anyone intruding in our waters. We are not in a state of tensions per say.

    Secondly; if the Chinese really wanted to jam out sensors chances are they could; irrespective of whether those sensors are Chinese or Western sourced.

    At the end of the day; using Chinese made ships to intercept or shadow Chinese ships is not an issue. Not as if we’re using those Chinese ships to conduct wartime ops in a high intensity environment against China …

    KL – “As overpriced as it is, at least its able to do patrol our waters”

    True. As they are they are “overpriced” and even if they were fully equipped they would still be overpriced because the costs of equipping then would be separate from whet we paid for the actual ships. This is a statement we can also apply to the LCSs when they enter service; what was paid (to salvage the programme) will not reflect what was delivered.

    They were intended from
    Day One to perform various types of peacetime and wartime roles (like all RMN ships) but alas until they are fully fitted out (if ever) they will only be good for very low threat wartime roles and will need to be operating with other better armed assets.

  11. Dunno whether it’s a typo or an inside joke but the CCG vessel name is actually Haijing. Well Hanjing or Hancing also OK I suppose…

    The Hanjing is around 5000 tonnes? As of now I don’t think we have any MMEA vessel displacing around that size. I agree with the suggestion to have more BM5/6s in the MMEA and Navy.

  12. On MMEA having at least 20 large OPVs by 2030.

    Can we achieve this? Yes IMO we can.

    6x damen 1800 OPV
    – 3x paid for, 3x more for USD180 million

    6x ex Kedah class OPV
    – passed on to MMEA. minor refits/repaint say USD60 million for all

    6x Tae Pyung Yang-class OPV
    – USD45 million each. That is USD270 million.

    3x OSV
    – 70-90m length. with refit/conversion. say USD15 million each. That is USD45 million

    A total of USD555 million to take 2 RMK budgets to achieve. Can it be done? Yes! Can it be afforded? Alll of that cost less than 2 Gowinds!

    We have the budget to make MMEA the lead peacetime maritime patrol force. All we need is the will to do so.

  13. Haijing or 海警 (my bad for the hanjing typo) means coast guard/maritime police in chinese and also japanese.

    As for more BM5/BM6. OSVs are also large vessels.

    Sapura Constructor is a ship nearly 120m in length. They are ships that are designed to stay put at sea for extended length of time. They have systems called DP or dynamic positioning which functions similar to auto hover in helicopters.

  14. Auxillary ships and OPV with self defence is good to go but not frigates with state of the art weapons…..for sure it will be delayed only GOD knows why…..

  15. @ chua

    Yes. commercial ships they have slow speeds.

    But as an enduring presence at a location, to show that, hey we are here, and not to be pushed off, it is more than capable to do that. Its big size are also a deterrence for other ships to play bumper cars with the ship.

    When malaysian MMEA or TLDM ship is already at a location (instead of reacting to a chinese coast guard appearance), then the CCG ship cannot come near to harass our economic activity in our EEZ. That does not need the speed to chase another ship.

    Why i also suggested high tech sail patrol ship with A-masts, as a show of presence in our EEZ. Less operational cost as it does not need a big engine, and can be seen from afar with its tall masts. Showing to illegal fishing boats and other coast guards that we are there from miles away.

    Ideally in the future we need to have MMEA/TLDM ships escorting our oil and gas exploration activities. Used OSVs can be used for this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.