MMEA OPV Programme

KUALA LUMPUR: THE Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA or APMM in Malay) has revealed more details of its Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) programme, first announced by the Prime Minister in the 2016 budget. During the presentation, DS Najib Razak said the government will allocate RM864 million to the MMEA for the procurement of OPV and patrol boats.

In an exclusive interview with Malaysian Defence, MMEA director-general Admiral Maritime Datuk Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar outlined details of its upcoming OPV programme on the sidelines of the recent DSA 2016.

The interview with Admiral Maritime Datuk Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar with Malaysian Defence (left). On the right is the MMEA PR Puan Faridah Shuaib. MMEA picture
The interview with Admiral Maritime Datuk Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar with Malaysian Defence . On the right is the MMEA PRO Puan Faridah Shuaib. MMEA picture

Among others, Ahmad Puzi said that the MMEA will be getting three OPVs costing some RM740 million from the total amount allocated in the 2016 Budget. He did not say how the rest of the funds from the budget would be spend.

A possible contender for the MMEA OPV programme, a Fassmer 80 OPV design. Chilean Navy Comandante Policarpo Toro OPV. Chile Navy
A possible contender for the MMEA OPV programme, a Fassmer 80 OPV design. Chilean Navy Comandante Policarpo Toro OPV. Chile Navy

“Originally, it was envisaged that we will only get two vessels but after careful consideration we were able to increase it to three OPVs. This does not mean we are compromising on quality however. Instead, we reconsider the type of equipment to be install on these ships.

“The OPVs will be fitted with Commercial Of The Shelf (COTS) equipment proven in service with global maritime companies and other coast guards. As the role of the MMEA is enforcement and not the military, we have no need to install military grade components. The decision to use COTS equipment were endorse by the Minister in charge of APPM, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim and the Chief Secretary,” Ahmad Puzi said.

Another possible OPV design for the MMEA to consider. A CGI of the Lurssen 85 metre OPV
Another possible OPV design for the MMEA to consider. A CGI of the Lurssen 85 metre OPV

“We believe that we will be able to make full of use of the funding allocated to ensure the country’s maritime interest are better protected,” he added

Ahmad Puzi said the new OPV – from a proven design – should be at least 80 metres long. It should be capable of an endurance of 20 days with a crew of 80. “If the shipyard tell us that their ship is 85 metres long and it still comes under our budget we will consider it of course,” he added.

APMM AS 365 Dauphin  - M70-01
APMM AS 365 Dauphin – M70-01

The OPV should have a landing pad and hangar for a medium size helicopter and also come with a UAV. Asked whether MMEA will be buying new helicopters for the OPVs, Ahmad Puzi replied in the negative saying that they will used the helicopters already in service with MMEA.

MMEA operates three Airbus Helicopters AS365 N3 Dauphin medium helicopters which were purchased in 2007. Apart from the Dauphins, MMEA also operates three AW139 helicopters and two Bombardier CL-415 amphibious aircraft.

MMEA AW139 M72-03. Apart from its duty with APMM, the helicopter is also used for various other duties. Picture taken in late 2013. Malaysian Defence
MMEA AW139 M72-03. Apart from its duty with APMM, the helicopter is also used for various other duties. Picture taken in late 2013. Malaysian Defence

As for the UAV on the OPV, Ahmad Puzi said they may specify the same one as to be used on the New Generation Patrol Craft (NGPC) – Thales Fulmar – to reduce the cost of maintenance and training, they will still consider other makes as well.

Thales Fulmar
Thales Fulmar

“If the UAV is more capable but the budget is only enough for two OPVs only we could still consider it,” he added. The OPV main armament will be a 30mm gun though MMEA will consider a bigger calibre, like a 40mm gun. “If its proven design and comes under the budget it could be offered,” he added.

Aselsan SMASH 30mm gun
Aselsan SMASH 30mm gun

Another requirement is for the OPV be able to accommodate at least 50 survivors and also have a detention facility for 20 people. A medical treatment facility is also a requirement. And although it is a government policy to build vessels locally, Ahmad Puzi said the OPVs could be built overseas, if situation demands it. “It will depend on what the government wants, we will be receptive to their considerations.”

Ahmad Puzi said the OPV programme is expected to take off this year after the tender is published. “Those who are interested in the tender should check the MMEA website for the details,” he added.

On the tender for 30mm guns for the six unarmed MMEA patrol boats issued last year, Ahmad Puzi said following the reassessment of the security situation in the country, they will be recommending that the tender be cancelled.

“We believed that the funds for the project will be better utilise in procuring 12.7mm guns for the 18 new Fast Interceptor Craft we are getting,” he said.

A graphic of the PT Palindo/Tenggara NASA OPV to meet the APMM requirement.
A graphic of the PT Palindo/Tenggara NASA OPV to meet the APMM requirement.

Ahmad Puzi explained that as most of the FIACs will be based in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone or ESSZONE the need to arm these vessels were more urgent than putting guns on the six patrol crafts.

“We as planners continue to monitor the situation in our area of operations and currently it is more important to arm our FIAC with the appropriate weapons. We do not need 30mm guns in ESSZONE as the Armed Forces already have the capabilities so therefore we are adjusting our plans to suit our needs. We do not need 30mm guns against non-state actors”.

According to Ahmad Puzi, the FIACs were procured to replace the similar vessels handed over to the agency when its MMEA started operations in 2005. “Most of the vessels were built before 2000 so they are already some 20 years old already.”

One of the Penggalang class FIAC procured from BYO Marine Sdn Bhd.
One of the Penggalang class FIAC procured from BYO Marine Sdn Bhd.

On the NGPC – one of six being built at the Destination Marine Sdn Bhd shipyard at Port Klang – Ahmad Puzi said the project was under schedule and the first ship was expected to be launched by year end.

“We are keeping a close eye on project to ensure that the ships contracted will be delivered on time and its quality is consistent with the contract that we signed,” he adding so far the shipyard was doing what was expected of them.

A model of the NGPC at Destini Bhd booth.
A model of the NGPC at Destini Bhd booth at DSA 2016.

He said the NGPC was designed to replace the 15 patrol boats handed over to the agency by the RMN. “These ships are 51-years-old already and its un-economical to maintain them. Most of the equipment are obsolete and the ships could barely conduct the tasks allocated to them.”

Asked whether more NGPC will be ordered, Ahmad Puzi stated that it was part of its long term plan which had been endorsed by the Deputy Prime Minister who has overall responsibility over the agency which comes under the Prime Minister’s Department.

KM Kukup, a former Kedah class PC.
KM Kukup, a former Kedah class PC.

Apart from new boats, the agency is also hoping to add more assets for its air wing in RMK11. “We have seen what our Bombardier aircraft are capable already. Apart from air surveillance, the aircraft have been deployed for fire-fighting from forest fires on mountains and also overseas in Palembang, Indonesia.

MMEA Bombardier CL415 conducting water bombing in Palembang, Sumatera, last year.
MMEA Bombardier CL415 conducting water bombing in Palembang, Sumatera, last year.

On another note, Ahmad Puzi said they are aware of the possibility of using idle oil-and gas ships for patrol duties. However, the cost of using these ships have been a hindrance.

“I have met with my minister (DS Shahidan Kassim) several times on proposals to use these boats following requests from ship owners. However, so far the cost is prohibitive. It will not work if they (ship owners) expect us to pay them as much as they used to get from the oil and gas industry. So I told my minister that it will be cheaper for us to buy new boats,” he added.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2184 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Good to see that our mmea is getting new ships. New 18 fast interceptors. Is it the same with the black craft in the picture?

  2. How about the Gagah samudera class ship? I think it’s big enough and cheap enough to be considered

  3. for that budget you could have:

    3 OPV of usd 60 million each or

    4 OPV of usd 45 million each or

    6 OPV of usd 30 million each

    some of the OPV of around usd 60 million
    – China P18N
    – New zealand Otago (STX marine korea)
    – Denmark Knud Radmusen

    some of the OPV of around usd 45 million
    – Fassmer OPV80 (usd 38million)
    – Makassar class LPD (why not? can carry 500 person, 2 helicopter hangar, floodable dock for RHIB, all for just usd 45 million)
    – India Larsen & toubro OPV (usd 32 million, 2400tonnes)

    I really hope to see the tenggara nasa OPV price to dip below usd 30 million mark.

  4. If the figure of 80 crew is accurate, it is rather substantial. This works out to +-25 crew per watch.

    The Kedah has a crew of 78 and more weapons and sensors to operate and maintain.

    I listened to the recording twice to ensure I did not make a mistake.

  5. @am

    Probably he meant that the ship should have accommodation for a minimum of 80person, not all of them are for the ships crew. If not mistaken the fassmer opv 80 has accommodation for 100.

    To be able to take 50 survivors is a small number. The helicopter hangar could probably have more than that, sitting spaces only of course.

    I used “accommodate at least 50 people” for a reason. It means that they will have facilities like beds etc.

  6. “I listened to the recording twice to ensure I did not make a mistake.”

    Marhalim, I did not mean you were mistaken. I meant the statement may have given a rough figure.

    Yes perhaps the KP misspoke.

  7. Any chance they will add helicopters in their relatively small fleet?

    Yes but no numbers at the moment

  8. kalau perlukan kuantiti dan kualiti yang boleh diterima, beli sahaja kapal-kapal dari indonesia. harga pun murah dan boleh dibeli dengan kuantiti lebih banyak. kapal-kapal mmea lebih kepada tujuan meronda dan tidak memerlukan persenjataan yang berat. jangan kerana mmea agensi baru, semua benda nak baru dan mahal. berjimat-cermatlah sikit. budget untuk mmea tak banyak mana. gunakan badget tu sejara berhemah. kalau betul-betul perlukan kuantiti kapal yang banyak, kena kompromi sikit dengan kualiti.

  9. @dawsa

    knpkah perlu beli di indonesia??
    setahu sy limbungan kapal di malaysia mampu buat kapal pun..
    harga tu sebb peralatan yg dipilih..

  10. Modern destroyer/frigate/corvette/OPV designs put emphasis on reduced RCS; thus there is minimal deckspace in case these ships have to rescue people. Similarly, due to their size RMN combatants also have little internal space to accommodate people in case there’s a need. The requirement for the MMEA OPVs to have enough internal space to accommodate people makes sense.

    More important than the main gun is for the OPV to have an electro-optical sight to detect, identify and track contacts at certain ranges and in adverse weather. The main gun is really for self-defence or in case the ship gets stuck in a sticky situation – whether to go for 30 or 40mm is really academic as at the end of the day; no MMEA ship should be in a position where 30 or 40mm calibre is not sufficient.

    Just as important is for the OPV to have a comms suite to enable comms not only with other MMEA assets but also with MAF and police assets; including aircraft. Sounds logical and simple but comms at times is still a problem between all the various agencies/organisations. Having a landing deck is the easy part; the not so easy part is that MMEA helicopter crews will have to qualify to land on decks and will have to maintain their currency.

    Alex – ” I think it’s big enough and cheap enough to be considered”

    Steel is cheap. What determines the price is what goes inside the and on the hull. The RMN’s 2 training ships are ”cheap” because they have a basic sensors suite and have only a fire control system. Add a CMS, air search radar, ESM and other fancy stuff [all not needed for training ships with a secondary patrol role] and the price really goes up.

  11. If admiral puzi wants only proven opv design, that would probably sideline any offer from pt palindo/tenggara nusa. That would suggest a strong possibility of the fassmer opv 80 winning.

    I believe within the budget, not 3 but 4 fassmer opv 80 could be bought. Get the most basic version, without guns, combat management systems etc. The expensive fassmer opv 80 versions has 76mm guns, hull strengthening for ice etc. Install 40mm/L70 bofors that apmm already have on the opv (and also on the NGPC) to save cost. Electronics should consist of COTS radar (kelvin hughes sharpeye or equivalent), EO/IR turrets, satcom, ais and LRADs. If selling the musytari/marikh opv can aid in equipping the new opv’s with more equipment, then apmm should consider doing so.

    We can get a really good deal if we bought the boats you mentioned including the Fassmer 80m OPV if we build them overseas from the current shipyards. If we were to do it locally even just assembly I expect they will get only three OPVs as mentioned

  12. The canceled 30mm guns belonged to the ngpc or the byo penggalang class crafts? So, what type of weaponry will be the substitute for the unarmed boats?

    The 30mm guns are supposed to be on the ships which were unarmed like the donated Japan boat and five more not armed. The ex-Japan was supposed to be a training ship, no guns were envisaged originally. It is likely that these boat will be armed with GPMGs.

  13. Ini kapal mana mana limbungan pon bole bikin yg penting uniformity n standardization apa pon peralatan nya utk jimatkan cost pemeliharaan masa akan dtg…org d atas harus pikirkan jugak dari sudut itu sbb budget tu pon tak bnyk mana bijak membeli itu teras yg penting…..

  14. “We believed that the funds for the project will be better utilise in procuring 12.7mm guns for the 18 new Fast Interceptor Craft we are getting”

    Referring to the above just to ask, apart from procuring the 3 OPV APMM will also procure the 18 Fast Interceptor Craft?


  15. @marhalim

    I really think that this is doable. There is nothing fundamentally different between chilean and malaysian shipyards. For example the NGPC project cost was on par with other similar sized patrol boats. Although we had our failures (ngpv and gagah samudra comes to mind) I am optimistic that malaysia as a nation truly can build ships on par (cost wise and quality wise) with other nations, not just a token work done in malaysia.

  16. HMG is the least armament that MMEA need to install on its boats. GPMG is insufficient even against non state actors in an open water

  17. Which company is supplying the 18 Fast Interceptor Craft? and when is it suppose to be delivered to APMM?

  18. It would be nice if someone was willing to buy the Marikh and Mystrari. Highly unlikely however given their age and mileage. Due to their hull design, both also have a reputation for not being very ”steady”.

    The gun should be a fully stabilised mount with IR sights that can be operated from inside the ship. For me, the most important piece of kit will be the UAV and – if any – electro-optical sights.

  19. News today:

    The Royal Australian Navy’s $50 billion contract for 12 submarines has been awarded to DCNS. The ships will be the conventional version of the Barracuda and will be app. 4500 tons.
    DCNS beat the Germans (Thyssen-Krupp) and Japanese Soryu (apparently good design but the range was too short and the subs too small for mat salleh sailors). Our Scorpenes must be damn good subs as they come from the same mould so to speak…

    The Barracuda 1A is the conventional variant of the French nuclear attack submarine. Quite different from the Scorpenes though it certainly helped them to continue the submarine building industry by building ours

  20. “Our Scorpenes must be damn good subs as they come from the same mould so to speak…”

    Naw, we surely aren’t given access to the top level of technology.

    Not that we would have bought technology if it were available. Mesma is offered for export and is not very expensive, yet we didn’t get it despite the price we paid for the submarines.

    As we had never operated submarines before it was thought that it will be better for us to get a standard submarine first. Follow up submarines will be fitted with AIPs though

  21. Tom Tom – ”Our Scorpenes must be damn good subs as they come from the same mould so to speak…”

    The Scorpene can apparently dive deeper than other contemporary Western designs; thanks to experience DCNS gained when constructing France’s SSNs.

    Australia’s problem – with regards to subs – is geography – to get to the South China Sea and other parts of South East Asia; RAN subs have a long, long transit; thus the need for an ocean, blue water boat.

    Ales – ”GPMG is insufficient even against non state actors in an open water”

    7.62mm will tear nice holes in any small craft used by non state actors. If non state actors were in a large vessel; even 30 or 40mm might not be enough. Also, for certain types of MMEA assets, a HMG and it’s ammo might be too heavy. The key is actually not the calibre but the mount. For a moving ship to hit another moving ship with any accuracy; a stabilised mount is needed.

  22. AIP is not as they make it out to be. That’s why Australia never got them with the current Collin’s class. The gain is only minimal, so says the RAN itself.

    Problem is AIP is that the power provided is very feeble (low speed or stationary) and subs with long distances to cover cannot survive on it.

    Yes, unfortunately I will be paying for the subs, being an Australian taxpayer. You guy in M’sia count yourself lucky.
    I pay 45% tax (YES!) and 10% GST.

  23. For Mmea OPV operations, to accurately hit a ship from standoff distances is one of the least important concerns. Those large OPVs would be tasked mainly in the south china sea, for maintaining a persistent presence in malaysia’s eez. Guns would be used mainly to shoot across the bow to stop ships, or overwatch duties during VBSS operations. I think that the manual 40mm/L70 bofors is adequate for the OPV, as it is basically free (taken out of current vospers and ex-police patrol boats). The chilean version of the fassmer opv 80 is also armed with the manual 40mm bofors. Manual guns also don’t need expensive and complex fire control systems, lowering the aqustition costs significantly.

    For FIACs such as the yonca-onuck Penggalang class boats, yes I believe a fully stabilised (small 0.30 or 0.50cal) RWS is needed as it is a small and fast boat, tasked chasing similar fast and small boats.

    For OPVs and NGPCs, in my opinion a single 40mm/L70 bofors in addition to gmpg or 0.50cal guns is adequate (Btw each vospers have 2 bofors, so apmm has like 30 bofors gun to choose from, not counting those newer versions on the ex-police PZ boats. Even those vospers that has been sunk, their bofors were removed before the sinking exercise.)

  24. Tom Tom too is lucky, paying tax that much is reflected in the govt quality of service and defensive wise, more capabilities for ADF compared to us M’sia taxpayers.

    I don’t think these new OPV main gun will be that 2nd hand L70s. New ship will come with new main gun, so that they never have to spare monies to replace the old gun in the vsl lifespan. RMN iso planning to retire old vsl that mostly armed with L70s so MMEA don’t want to be left behind becoming the sole operator of the L70. For commonality and ease of support, use same 30mm with NGPC. Other systems like power&propulsion, sensor, C2 can use the same type for NGPC too.

  25. The L/70s and L/60s on the Kedahs, Keris and Sabah class are not stabilised. Whatever goes on on the MMEA ships have to be stabilised and must be able to be operated from inside the ship. A non stabilised gun will make it hard for the gunner to hit anything when the ship is moving at – at even slow speed – speed or is rolling : whether at ‘standoff” or close range. Some models have a stabilised mount : ours don’t.

    Similarly, when the Bofors Mk2s are fired [from inside the turret as the Naja directors have long been retired], Mahawangsa and Sakti have to moving slowly and the sea must be calm for hits to be achieved. I know someone who’s done it – can be very hot inside as the only ventilation is a blower. The good thing about the Emerlecs were that they were stabilised but the ones on the Kasturis had perpetual fire control issues.

    The old Bofors guns are spray and pray..

  26. AIP has its advantages and it does make for a quieter, harder to detect boat but a boat without AIP is still hard to detect; especially when operating in littoral waters and waters that are familiar to the crew. Cost was probably a reason we didn’t specify a MESMA for our 2 boats when they were ordered. Another reason also could have been because it was felt that AIP wasn’t needed at this stage as the 2 boats were intended – off course they also have a combat role – to serve as training platforms; to enable RMN crew to steadily gain the needed experience.

    The original intention was to get a pair of ex-RN Oberons [part of the 1988 MOU signed with the U.K.] to serve as training platforms – glad we didn’t as maintaining the Oberons would have been a nightmare and by the mid-1990’s we would have had to replace them. Years later we were also offered ex-Bundesmarine Type 206s but there was never any interest. Thailand later came close to getting them.

  27. Ideally of course a modern 30mm stabilised RWS would be preferable (even for me). But on the grand scheme of things, I don’t think fitting the old 40mm/L70 would compromise the OPV’s mission capability. I would rather have lots of fifi waterguns instead. More fun shooting water Lol!

    Btw those 206 subs finally found a buyer just 1 or 2 years ago, 2 operational and 2 spares to columbia.

  28. Oh and don’t forget the LRADs so we could deafen any trespassing ships with loud siti nurhaliza songs!

    Even the Chinese make a copy of the LRAD it was even displayed at DSA 2016. Once my PC is fixed I will put it the picture with a post on another OPV programme

  29. Yes, that is how ‘rich’ countries pay for their expensive military toys. Most of their incomes come from taxation, and the tax office is also aggressive, making sure nobody pays their share (unless you are a big company and pay tax offshore).

    Malaysia’s budgetary woes can be easily solved by having a higher tax or levy to pay for things we really need. But alas, only a very small % of M’sians pay income tax and the GST is only minimal. And there are all these subsidies like fuel, sugar etc. The Malaysian government is too afraid to pursue income via taxation it seems.

    Really take away or reduce the fuel subsidies and increase the GST and our budget can be balanced, instead of the 3% deficit.

  30. There are about 14.7 million employees in Malaysia but only around 1 mil to 1.3 million that pay any personal income tax. Not that the rest are avoiding it on purpose but majority of it earned less than RM30k a year (the minimum threshold to start paying an income tax). So one can look at it from a view that unless we get people to earn more than RM30k a year, the personal income tax collection would not be improving by leaps and bounds.

  31. …… – ”More fun shooting water Lol!”

    The USN previously experimented with using very fast water jets to detonate incoming SSMs.


    The Chinese even make a copy of the Model 56 :] Years ago, China ordered a handful of Model 56s and Oto Melara was puzzled as to why such a few were ordered. Shortly after that, a ”Made in China” Model 56 was offered for export.

  32. True on the tax, although if you earn a little more than RM30k a year, the amount of tax payable on that is only in the hundreds. It’ll be many years before we get a meaningful amount from income tax.

    Malaysians do pay a flat rate tax in the form of zakat and in theory it is paid regardless of income. It is also substitute for the amount of income tax you otherwise have to pay. But I have no idea how much people actually pay.

  33. In regards to what Hnaiff the 18 Fast Interceptor Craft that APMM planning to arm with the 12.7mm gun new?or they were unarmed before this?thanks

    They were unarmed before this

  34. How long does it take for the MMEA to get the 3 OPV since it has to be built from scratch ? Dengan keadaan keselematan semasa adakah pihak MMEA patut menunggu OPV untuk dibina atau can consider to procure ready made OPV?

    For the first one it will take at least 3 or 4 years after the contract is signed. The whole fleet in six years. Yes it will be faster to get second hand ships. If its free I think they will take up the offer (depending on whom giving of course) but if they have to pay for it, I dont think it will work. It will be used against them when they request funds for buying new ships.

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