Maharaja Lela is off the hardstand

PCU Maharaja Lela berthed in the jetty adjacent to the shipyard. Malaysian Defence picture.

SHAH ALAM: AS reported previously it was planned under the sixth supplementary contract that the first LCS – PCU Maharaja Lela – will be put into water or using the technical term – down slip – in May, this year. The down slipping took place on May 21 based on leaked pictures

Some two weeks later, Lunas had not seen fit to put out a release of the event though. It must be said that this is not a great achievement as it is almost ten years since the first steel was cut and seven years after Maharaja Lela was launched.

PCU Maharaja Lela berthed in the jetty adjacent to the shipyard. Malaysian Defence picture.

Anyhow I took the trouble to travel to Pangkor Island last week to see for myself whether she was down-slipped or not. From the dirty windows of the ferries – to and fro – Maharaja Lela could be seen berthed adjacent to the hardstand where she was built. Behind her was KD Kasturi which had been at the yard since 2021 undergoing her refit.
One could just make out the end of the second LCS jutting out from the hangar on the right.

Unlike in the past, the Pangkor ferries no longer allowed passengers to stand on the rear deck which would have allowed better pictures of the shipyard and Maharaja Lela.
LCS PCU Maharaja Lela. Her name could be seen on the stern. Picture taken on Aug. 23. 2017. The picture was taken on the open upper deck of a Pangkor ferry. Malaysian Defence picture

I had done this before in 2017 and 2001 but this time around I had to take pictures from inside the cabin through the dirty cabin windows. I asked the workers the reason they only said that this was no longer allowed.
The view from the Lumut ferry terminal. The yellow building on the far end is the hangar now marked with Lumut Naval Shipyard name. The blue circle indicates the extension work on the RMN jetty. Malaysian Defence picture.

From the Lumut ferry terminal one cannot see Maharaja Lela on the water as the RMN jetty where the ships are berthed blocked the view. One could see the work on the extension of the RMN jetty from the ferry terminal (see above) which was announced in mid-2023.
The LCS schedule from the sixth supplemental contract. PAC

Although she is in the water, Maharaja Lela is not out of the woods yet. More trials are ahead of her as her commissioning is only planned in 2026 (see the graphic above).
PCU Maharaja Lela could be seen in the middle of the image.

It must be noted that Maharaja Lela could be taken back on the hardstand if more work is needed. As Lunas used a ship lift, the up and down slip process is less dramatic than traditional launches.
A bird’s eye of the Lumut Shipyard taken in April by the company. PCU Maharaja Lela is now berthed just behind KD Kasturi now.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

44 Comments

  1. Interestingly latest news seems to point to the LCS2 being “downslipped” by Dec 2024.

    Lets see if this happens.

    BTW I hope that history should note that LCS1 real launch date should be 21 may 2024, not the fake one on 24 August 2017.

    I still hope that I can see the keel laid for LCS6 in around 2026/27. I still feel that completing all 6 Gowinds is better and quicker than getting LMS Batch 2 Corvettes.

  2. Good effort. Was thinking of doing that as well but the last I was in Lumut, I noticed most of the ferries now operate from the Marina side and the Lumut town end only operates mainly on weekends. Still hesitate to make the trip.
    Will tomorrow’s visit by the Menhan to view the LCS1 happen?

  3. Marhalim, I need to clarify this:
    Last I asked, you said there is no funding for LCS6. If funding become available in the future it might go ahead right? After all, the steel is already there.
    I just wanna confirm that it’s not definite cancelled.

  4. Yes, as I mentioned before currently its cancelled but if the first five is completed according to the current schedule, it will be politically expedient for the sixth one to be revived.

  5. Better just call it ‘Maharaja Lewat’ (no pun on the royalty or said person)

  6. @Hulu
    “completing all 6 Gowinds is better and quicker than getting LMS2”
    There is no if and or here. LMS2 (bar the 1st unit) will follow on from the last LCS to be built in LUNAS. Whether LMS2 starts early or later will depend on when the last LCS rolls off the line whether it be unit 5 or 6. So its not a competing program or a spare program, LMS2 is a natural follow on from LCS.

  7. BTW any updates on OPV #2 & #3? Is the yard totally shuttered and no more workers?

  8. datuk maharajalela (the stickman that shagged JWW Birch) is not royalty.

  9. Googling seems to point to this person: Dato Maharaja Lela or Lela Pandak Lam (died on 20 January 1877) was a chief and nationalist from Perak

    So just to be safe in case goodness knows somebody takes umbrage at that joke.

  10. Maharaja Lela is the title of the noble person appointed by the Sultan. His job is basically a judge, jury and executioner though the last one was usually done by his underlings. The title is still carried on this day as part of 16 orang besar perak

  11. The Maharaja Lela only planned the killing of JWW Birch. His underling, Si Putom, was the one who killed Birch, some say was Putom was an orang asal.

  12. If the last 6th LCS proceed should I suggest the name Rosli Dhoby? The person who stab the 2nd Sarawak British governor…

  13. I think LCS must be finished. It adds insult to injury that the last LCS ship is not finished and the steel just sits there. The government must make sure that money is eventually allocated for it to be finished. Eventually….

  14. @ joe

    ” LMS2 is a natural follow on from LCS ”

    The main selling point for the existance of the LMS B2 project being upsized into a Corvette was that it is supposed to be a stopgap vessel because of the Gowinds being delayed or even outright cancelled. It was supposed to be a ship that we can get quickly. Also if the LCS Gowind was stopped at only 2 ships, the rest of the equipment already bought and paid-for the LCS Gowind project was supposed to be reused on the LMS B2 Corvettes.

    But now we are sure most of the LCS Gowinds will be completed, and looking at the fast progress now, probably will be completed earlier than the latest schedule.

    So what is the point of the LMS B2 Corvettes now if it is only to be had AFTER most of the Gowinds is completed?

  15. Current allocated names

    LCS1 – Maharaja Lela (Perak)
    LCS2 – Syarif Masahor (Sarawak)
    LCS3 – Raja Mahadi (Selangor)
    LCS4 – Mat Salleh (Sabah)
    LCS5 – Tok Janggut (Kelantan)
    LCS6 – Mat Kilau (Pahang)

  16. @Hulu
    “main selling point for the existance of the LMS B2 project being upsized”
    Indeed perhaps so, but that isnt the raison d etre for LMS2, it has always planned to bulk up the fleet with LMS sized vessels for the multitude of tasks currently. While that reason for LMS2 upsizing has been moot now, I see the reason why they continue to pursue a larger more equipped LMS2 is because they predict a follow on LCS2 batch will not arrive as per their timeline (or not even then!) so in liew of more LCS its either to overworked them to an early retirement or else support the LCS operation with more numerous LMS2 ships.

    Also remember that LC1 Keris was supposedly 2+2 locally assembled, likely also in BNS yard, until that plan was spanar by Tun M to be all done in Wuhan. So the LMS program had always been meant for local production, this has not changed, and if not done in other local yards, surely be slotted in AFTER the last LCS. I suspect the concurrency of LMS1 with LCS builds was PM Najib then trying to spread out the project (2 local + 16 follow on) to various players that time, maybe 1-2 LMS per local yard so a few yards could reap the income. But thats just my conjecture and water long passed under the jamban.

  17. I think if we want to name one of the LCS batch 2 after a freedom fighter from Sarawak, maybe Rentap would be among the list.

  18. @ Joe

    If you looked at my TLDM alternative plan, i even planned for most shipyards in Malaysia to have something to build for TLDM and APMM from now till 2040

    https://www.malaysiandefence.com/rmn-new-15-to-5-plan/#comment-898016

    My Arrowhead 140 plan would mean LUNAS has 4 large Frigates to be build from 2031-2040

    BHIC Submarine Engineering to assemble 4x Scorpenes from 2026-2040

    Petronas Project SAFINA shipyards to build 24x LMS-X FCS5009 for TLDM, 36x NGPC2 FCS4008 for APMM from now till 2040

    MMHE Pasir Gudang for 2x fleet tanker

    other large shipyards such as labuan, shin yang, to build APMM OPVs.

    https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2024/03/04/syg-expects-rising-orders-for-osvs

  19. Another reason why the LCS6 should really be built

    The LCS6 build could be a great tool to show everyone, from the politicians, to the navy leaderships; how would the project be completed if there is no interference, no change of specs, no decisions delayed, all engineering works done by the original designer themselves.

    It would be clear cut – from the date of the keel laying until ship launch and ship commissioning, the amount of time, the cost of manpower involved, to really build a single Gowind.

  20. @Hulu
    As I said before, your plans are based on your delusions. What I meant was PM Najib had wanted to work within the 15to5 Plan but to spread the wealth to other yards. Neither the ori Plan nor the new Evolved Plan has any semblance with yours. As I told Azlan as well, see & understand what the user wants not assume what they want.

    Ironically the OP/OP Plus program is doing such by parceling out the refits to various yards, altho with varying degrees of satisfaction (KD Kasturi stuck at BNS for 3 years is just not acceptable for merely a refit job). We havent even touched MRSS (likely will be evolved Makassar) which due to their size imho better to be built at MMHE yard rather than BNS.

  21. @hulubalang

    Agree on completing the LCS6 since we already have the parts to assemble it(would be a waste if we didn’t), but what’s the point of completing it so we can “show” the people, politicians and navy leadership?(It’s not like they would repent from their sins…) The plate is already broken unfortunately, and we are currently gluing the pieces together. If anything, the higher ups and powers that be should take this embarrassing fiasco as a lesson and commit fully to the overall strengthening of the MAF in these next few critical years, no more half measures and uneducated politicians asking “who are we gonna fight?” When the armed forces request the budget for badly needed assets.

  22. RM11.2 billion for 5 ships with the option of 1 extra.
    That means 1 ship cost around RM2.2 billion equivalent to USD476 million per ship. Compared to the initial cost of RM9 billions for 6 ships (RM1.5 billion/ship). Original cost in usd was at 319M/ship. 157M price increased/ship. I hope the gov & the end user will never do this again. Imagine all that money channeled to education or healthcare.

  23. “As I said before, your plans are based on your delusions”

    My plans is based on
    – clear funding limits
    – clear timelines
    – best possible naval and coast guard capability with the limited funding available. At least giving the navy a much better and more capable fleet than original 15 to 5 and also realignment 15 to 5 plans by 2040.

    A TLDM 2040 fleet of
    6x Scorpene SSK
    4x Arrowhead 140 Frigate
    6x Gowind Frigate
    24x LMS-X FCS5009
    30x FIC
    2x Fleet Tanker
    2x Fast RORO
    3x OSV – auxillary ship, MCM mothership, SF support, SUB support/tender, UAS support, pipeline security/surveillance
    1x Sub Rescue (leased)
    8x SH-60J ASW
    8x AW139 MUH
    RQ-21 Blackjack UAV
    MQ-27 Scaneagle UAV

    – based on the current security challenges which is PLAN for TLDM and CCG for APMM
    – based on having the biggest deterrence value for our limited budget, which is Submarines, 6 of them by 2040
    – based on minimum numbers of ships at sea for day to day maritime zone security to shadow CCG ships and detect any foreign subs entering our maritime zone
    – can be executed with all current available resources
    – giving malaysian shipyards continuous shipbuilding tasks.
    .
    .
    .
    Original TLDM plan – does not take APMM into account by insisting on doing what APMM is supposed to do.

    current TLDM plan – does not take current risk of war in SCS and latest military technological advances in supersonic and hypersonic ship killing missiles as a serious matter. Still plans for yesterday’s defence requirements.

  24. What do you mean that if the money is chaneled to education and healthcare. Both education and healthcar got their own allocation. And in a pinch money for defence and security are always reduced to add to education and health care and not the other way around.

  25. Of course LCS6 will be built but not within this already approved budget and additional supplementary budget. The plan is for 12 LCS as we all know. When should be the question.

  26. ”As I told Azlan as well, see & understand what the user wants not assume what they want.”

    Had no idea you told me this but I tend to base my assessments on what the user wants [based on what I can gather from open sources and elsewhere] rather than what I assume they want or even based on what I think they should get [if I did I’d be churning out fantasy lists like ‘…’ which are highly subjective and in line with personal preferences rather than reality].

  27. @Hulu
    “much better and more capable fleet”
    Arguable as that is from your POV and there were many holes pointed out previously. The TLDM brasses would have also argued their fleet are much better and more capable and doing it successfully for the decisionmakers & politicians to vet their program.

  28. ”So what is the point of the LMS B2 Corvettes now if it is only to be had AFTER most of the Gowinds is completed?”

    Still don’t get it? Fond of engaging in rhetoric’s aren’t you? It’s really not hard. Even if all the LCSs had been delivered on time there was still a need for the LMSs. The LMSs weren’t intended to be a ”stop-gap”’ or ”interim solution” but it did assume a greater sense of urgency at a time when the RMN had no idea as to what would happen with the whole programme. The only person who is under the impression that the LMSs are a ”stop-gap”’ or ”interim solution” or we suppose to arrive before the LCSs is you ….

    … ”2x Fleet Tanker”

    A ”tanker” carries fuel and a ”oiler” conducts RAS. Navies worldwide make the distinction [RMN ships have been refuelled by ”oilers” not ”tankers”] as do oil/gas companies [Petronas has ‘tankers” but no ”oilers”]. As it stands we have no need for either ‘oilers” or ”tankers” – both superfluous. On the rare occasion we venture far it’s far more practical and cheaper to stop to refuel.

    … – ”based on having the biggest deterrence value for our limited budget, which is Submarines,”

    You are assuming that we will always be able to deploy subs effectively. Again – if the enemy has his own subs in the area as well as surface and air ASW units; not to mention mines and other things how do our subs effectively operate. Need a reminder as to the lesson from WW1/2 that the next best thing to destroying a sub is to prevent it from doing its job?

    … ”by insisting on doing what APMM is supposed to do.”

    Nonsense. Since we have to go over this again – As has been pointed out [countless times – by others too] even if the MMEA had 100 OPVs the RMN [like almost all navies] would still have various peacetime roles. The RMN pointing out that the Batch 2s can and will do EEZ patrols is a way to justify funding; just like how years ago the RMAF made the case that a AEW platform also has peacetime utility. A major peacetime role of the Batch 2s will be EEZ patrol but this is not it’s only role; it also has war time roles and until the MMEA can fully assume all its responsibilities the RMN is the only entity able to carry the burden [unless you know of another entity].

    I can try to lay this out in simpler terms if needed

    … ”Still plans for yesterday’s defence requirements.”

    That’s according to you. This may surprise but but the RMN has a pretty good idea as to what it needs and ”today’s” requirements does not factor in the need to go against the PLAN. Well can’t speak about you but ”others” deal in the realms of reality. The notion that the RMN can ”fight PLAN” is ludicrous; might as well talk about Buck Rogers or Roger Rabbit. Next time you get a chance to speak to a RMN gut; tell him that you’re convinced the RMN’s force structure is driven with the need to ”fight” China and that if only it adopted all your proposals the RMN would have a chance. See how loud he laughs …

    Are you still convinced our subs should surface in the vicinity of intruding Chinese ships to show they’re there? Need another reminder why North Vietnam an Finland were able to achieve what they did; that the enemy too has a say/vote and that others too can practice asymmetric warfare? What happens if an enemy is not ”deterred” but our ”deterrence”? We sit back and sing patriotic songs and hope?

    That’s according to you. This may surprise but but the RMN has a pretty good idea as to what it needs and ”today’s” requirements does not factor in the need to go against the PLAN. Well can’t speak about you but ”others” deal in the realms of reality. The notion that the RMN can ”fight PLAN” is ludicrous; might as well talk about Buck Rogers or Roger Rabbit. Next time you get a chance to speak to a RMN gut; tell him that you’re convinced the RMN’s force structure is driven with the need to ”fight” China and that if only it adopted all your proposals the RMN would have a chance. See how loud he laughs. The PLAN causes major worries for the likes of the USN, RAN, JMSDF and others; all belonging to countries which spend much more and are in a higher state of development in terms of experience and tertiary capabilities; compared to the RMN. Yet the RMN can ”fight” China? This is suppose to be a serious discussion in the only Malaysian defence site worth visiting.

    … – ”PLAN for TLDM and CCG for APMM”

    Yes but you missed the part where the RMN as always in the background in case the MMEA reaches a point where it can’t handle things. You also perpetually miss the part where until the MMEA is ready the only entity able to full the gap is the RMN unless you know of the deep state having some other entity which is unknown to the general public.

  29. The TLDM realignment 15 to 5 plan only has 7 LCS in total.

    None after the current 5 and 2 more in RMK15 2036-2040.

    what should be done is allocating additional budget to complete LCS6 if not within the RMK12 2021-2025 supplementary budgets, at least included in RMK13 2026-2030 budgets.

    https://t.co/8qG2rDua5X

  30. ….,

    – Just like how the 5/15 is not holy writ; written in stone or carved in granite the “realignment” plan may itself be “realigned” in the future.

    – If all 5 ships are delivered trouble free it’s inconceivable [at least to me] that the 6th won’t be completed. Political imperatives at play.

  31. Jason – ”but what’s the point of completing it so we can “show” the people, politicians and navy leadership?”

    Well if we’re interested in cosmetics or window dressing than the ”showing” part makes sense. Personally after years of delays and massive overruns and having completed 5 ships; constructing the 6th ship on schedule and per budget is nothing to shout about.

    The question is what happens after that? The next time around we decide to construct locally.

  32. My mistake. The decision to have all LMS Batch 1s constructed in China was made during Mahathir’s time.

  33. @Hulu
    “The TLDM realignment 15 to 5 plan only has 7 LCS in total.”
    Wrong there. The realignment clearly stated the goal is to eventually have a fleet of 12 LCS.

  34. … – ”RQ-21 Blackjack UAV
    MQ-27 Scaneagle UAV”

    It can be any UAS but in line with the widespread introduction of UASs there has to also be a change in mindset and culture. Hopefully after gaining 1st hand experience with the Scaneagle the RMN will gain a better sense of appreciation as utility. For me; with a few exceptions every RMN ship should have an embarked UAS; as supplement to a helo [if any] and the ship’s sensors. Unfortunately the LCSs won’t have a UAS and it’s not due to a lack of space as you seem to think. At DSA the RMN ”realignment” banner stated that the LMS would have a ”drone”.

    … – ”2x Fast RORO”

    A RORO – no matter how you want to paint or sell it – is a supplement to a MPSS not a substitute. Also, we can always take up for trade civilian RoRos if a need arises. In the past we leased a RoRo for training purposes. RoRos tends to be one trick ponies unlike a MPSS which is multi-purpose. RoRos also have inherent poor seakeeping and poor DC standards.

    … – ”At least giving the navy a much better and more capable fleet ”

    What’s ”better” and ”more capable” in this context is really subjective; your opinions/preferences. As the actual entity which operates the stuff the RMN would have a much better appreciation/understanding as to what it needs and what it can sustain in line with the strategic calculus as our planners perceive it; which BTW does not include conflict with the largest [or 2nd largest] economy; the largest industrial capacity in the world; a population of 1 billion and which spends trillions on its military.

    … – ”Still plans for yesterday’s defence requirements.”

    It plans for the threats we’re likely to face and the threats we’re likely to face aren’t necessarily the ones we can handle based on limited resources. BTW in recent decades the PLAN has significantly improved its capabilities but don’t give the impression it wasn’t a threat in the 1990’s -it already had a numerical edge; had ballistic missiles which could hit most of the region; has long range missile armed bombers; had acquired cruise missile technology from the Ukraine; had Soveremmenys with Sunburn and last but not least was a nuclear power.

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