MRSS After 30 Years, Probably

Three MRSS designs on display at the RMN booth at DSA 2018. The model ships were gifted to RMN as the builders tried to entice the service to buy their ships for the MRSS requirements. Malaysian Defence picture

SHAH ALAM: Dewan Rakyat was told on Tuesday that the government will finally approve the funding for the RMN’s multi-role support ship in RMK13, some 30 years after it was proposed. Deputy Defence Minister Adly Zahari said RMN 15 to 5 Transformation Plan called for the procurement of three MRSS in RMK 12 (the current one which ends in 2025) and RMK 13 which starts in 2026.

Under 15 to 5 programme, the plan is to build two MRSS in RMK12 and one in RMK14 (see the graphic below. Adly said the MRSS was an important part of RMN fleet capability and the Armed Forces operational needs due to its strategic sealift capability.

However, he added, the focus was now on strengthening RMN combat capability via the LCS and LMS Batch 2 programmes.

RMN planned procurement under the 15 to 5 plan.

The Hansard from October 24, Edited for brevity and style.

Komander Nordin bin Ahmad Ismail TLDM (Bersara) [Lumut] minta Menteri
Pertahanan menyatakan adakah kementerian akan menilai semula keputusan yang telah
dibuat untuk menangguhkan membeli kapal Multi Role Support Ship (MRSS).

Timbalan Menteri Pertahanan [Tuan Haji Adly bin Zahari]: Bismillahi Rahmani
Rahim. Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh dan salam sejahtera. Terima kasih,
Yang Berhormat Lumut atas soalan yang dikemukakan.
Tan Sri Yang di-Pertua, dokumen strategi Program Transformasi Armada TLDM 15
to 5telah memperincikan perancangan perolehan tiga buah kapal multi-role support ship
(MRSS) dalam Rancangan Malaysia Kedua Belas dan Ketiga Belas.
Keperluan MRSS ini adalah amat penting dalam melengkapkan aset Armada TLDM
bagi memenuhi keperluan operasi ATM melalui kemampuan strategik sealift antara
Semenanjung Malaysia dengan Sabah dan Sarawak. Di samping bantuan logistik dan
kemanusiaan di peringkat antarabangsa apabila diperlukan.
Walau bagaimanapun, fokus TLDM masa kini lebih tertumpu kepada program
peningkatan keupayaan aset combatant yang lebih kritikal seperti meneruskan perolehan
kapal litteral combat ship (LCS) dan perolehan kapal litteral mission ship batch kedua dan
perolehan kapal MRSS ini akan dirancang dalam Rancangan Malaysia Ketiga Belas yang
akan bermula pada tahun 2026.
Itu sahaja jawapan.

Tuan Yang di-Pertua: Silakan, Yang Berhormat Lumut.
Komander Nordin bin Ahmad Ismail TLDM (B) [Lumut]: Soalan tambahan saya
Yang Berhormat Timbalan Menteri.
Kalau menunggu Rancangan Malaysia Ketiga belas maknanya kapal yang sedia ada
yang telah berusia hampir 40 tahun akan berkhidmat lagi tiga tahun itu pun bergantung
kepada bajet pada RMKe-13. Saya pun pernah berkhidmat di kapal tersebut, kapal KD Sri
Indera Sakti. Walaupun kelasnya tetapi ia telah dikategorikan sebagai multi-role support ship.
Soalan saya, apalah langkah kementerian untuk meningkatkan keupayaan kapal
MRSS ini yang sedia ada yang telah berusia serta kos penyelenggaraan untuk pelbagai
penugasan logistik?

Tuan Yang di-Pertua: Sila, Menteri.
Tuan Haji Adly bin Zahari: Terima kasih Yang Berhormat Lumut. Tan Sri Yang diPertua, untuk makluman seperti mana yang saya sebut tadi. Memang kita tidak nafikan
bahawa MRSS yang sedia ada ini kita- saya fikir ada dua. Satu sudah berusia 40 tahun dan
satu lagi berusia 43 tahun, itu kita tidak nafikan.
Tetapi, sepertimana yang kita sebut tadi dalam kita merancang dalam Rancangan
Malaysia Ketiga Belas, dalam tempoh itu di samping saya sebut tentang LCS, saya sebut
tentang LMS sebenarnya penumpuan kita juga adalah untuk meningkatkan keupayaan
combatant di samping MRSS yang sedia ada juga.
Jadi, sebab itu kalau kita lihat dua faktor yang menjadi faktor penting. Pertama,
teknikal dan juga kewangan itu. So, penyusunan kita di TLDM itu mengambil kira semua
faktor-faktor ini. Itu sahaja.

Tuan Yang di-Pertua: Saya jemput Sri Gading.
Tuan Haji Aminolhuda bin Hassan [Sri Gading]: Terima kasih, Tan Sri Speaker.
Soalan tambahan saya adalah berkaitan dengan keselamatan. Oleh kerana MRSS ini adalah
sebagai bantuan untuk hantar bekalan dan sebagainya. Sedangkan kita punya laut ini luas
terutamanya Laut China Selatan yang panjangnya pun 568.42 kilometer dengan bukan sahaja di Laut China Selatan, bahkan di sebelah Selat Melaka juga kita ada masalah lanun
dan sebagainya.
Sedangkan kalau kita lihat bahagian untuk ketenteraan bagi Indonesia ada RM37
bilion, Singapura RM65 bilion. Singapura yang kecil pun bajet ketenteraannya besar. Jadi,
apakah perancangan kementerian untuk memastikan keselamatan negara itu betul-betul
dapat dijaga dengan usaha yang sepatutnya bagaimana? Apakah perancangan seterusnya
untuk memastikan kapal-kapal keperluan negara ini ada pada negara kita?

Tuan Yang di-Pertua: Sila, Menteri.
Tuan Haji Adly bin Zahari: Terima kasih, Yang Berhormat Sri Gading di atas
persoalan yang dikemukakan. Tan Sri Yang di-Pertua, seperti mana kita tahu bahawa kita
telah menggariskan Kertas Putih Pertahanan kita dan kita tahu Malaysia sebuah negara
maritim. Kita tahu bahawa dalam Kertas Putih Pertahanan itu gabungan kita sama ada
kekuatan kita di laut, di darat mahupun di udara termasuk yang terbaru kita letakkan antara
elemen penting adalah kekuatan siber kita.
Sebab itu kalau kita lihat kemampuan kita di kala ini, itu tidak perlu kita pertikaikan.
Tugas dan tanggungjawab kita di Kementerian Pertahanan adalah untuk pastikan kedaulatan
dan sempadan kita sentiasa terjaga. Sebab itu kita mengambil kira semua aspek-aspek ini.
Memang saya akui bahawa bajet kita walaupun tahun ini ditingkatkan RM2 bilion
tidak cukup bagi kita. Tetapi, kerana keperluan-keperluan pertahanan ini memang perlu kita
pertingkatkan demi masa depan pertahanan negara kita dan juga sebenarnya kalau kita lihat
dalam negara maritim pertahanan itu juga akan merangsang juga kemampuan ekonomi kita.
Kerana kita tahu bahawa kekayaan kita ada di laut itu sama ada hasil minyak dan
pelancongannya dan dari segi perdagangannya. Sebab itu kalau kita lihat investment kita
kepada pertahanan itu sebenarnya adalah sebahagian daripada keperluan untuk memastikan
ekonomi negara juga. Itu sahaja jawapan

Commentary.
The RMN had started talking publicly on the MRSS since 1997 and if indeed that the first ship is funded from 2026, it is likely the first ship will only be commissioned into service by 2028/2029. Which is some 30 years after the plan was made public. If the ship building goes to plan, anyway.

RMN’s 15 to 5 plan, graphic posted on the service official Facebook page, TLDM

For the record, by that time both KD Indera Sakti and KD Mahawangsa will be near the half-century mark. One could argue if the LCS project had not gone haywire, funding for the MRSS will be forthcoming. That said stranger things have happened before. The last time the MRSS came so close to funding was back in 2017. Eight months later it became clear that it will not. Honestly, if that did not happen, I am still of the opinion that the the MRSS project would not have proceeded anyway due to the LCS fiasco.

— Malaysian Defence

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71 Comments

  1. For me, it’s better to acquire two more submarines in current RMK, at least the gov manages to complete one of the five classes in RMN

  2. “litteral” combat ship??

    Anyway

    “Oleh kerana MRSS ini adalah
    sebagai bantuan untuk hantar bekalan dan sebagainya”

    In the past… Our MPCSS (Multi Purpose Command Support Ships) among their important tasks is to be command centers for small boats, FACs etc. As for their logistics operations, they need to load/unload their cargo/vehicles at a pier, although it can self load/unload with their built-in cranes.

    Do we need fancy LPD/LHD to do those tasks? It is a nice to have, but not really a must.

    Logistics bridge between East and West Malaysia can be done with fast RORO ships. Most of US and UK military logistics actually use these kind of ships. US Military Sealift Command (MSC) has many RORO ships that actually does most of the logistical movements. The Bob Hope Class for example
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Hope-class_vehicle_cargo_ship

    UK uses the Point class ships
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point-class_sealift_ship

    Spanish navy bought the SPS Ysabel secondhand for EUR 7.5 million. The ship recently has been busy transporting military equipment to Ukraine and Lebanon (UNIFIL). Recently Spanish navy has put out a requirement for a 2nd RORO ship like the Ysabel.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_ship_Ysabel

    For small ship support, command, etc. this can be done by OSVs. Recently many navies (Australia and UK comes to mind) has been buying used OSVs for various missions. Malaysia as a major oil and gas producer, has plenty of similar ships owned by Malaysian companies.
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/F8Ppc1DakAAWujg.jpg

  3. Sekadar pandangan saya. Berkaitan program MRSS ini, siapa tahu mungkin sepertinya program 12 helikopter baru untuk TUDM yang baru diluluskan dalam bajet 2024 baru ini, tidak mustahil program MRSS juga mampu diluluskan kerajaan lebih awal / sebelum RMK 13. Dahulu pun program CAP 55 TUDM menyatakan helikopter baru hanya akan dibeli dalam jangka masa -+10 tahun akan datang (RMK 13 ke atas) tapi ternyata kerajaan meluluskannya lebih awal. Mari berharap MRSS program juga seperti itu.

  4. We all knew what holding MRSS heck even the LMS batch 2 purchase..Its that dam*ed LCS..Sucking all the funds preventing RMN to expand and replace their aging (almost ancient) fleet.But no lets just focus on LCS and pour all the money into that scam.Lets just coolly cancel the sixth ship and increase the contract value to 12 odd billion and contract time to the end of the world.That too coming from someone who want to “combat corruption”.

  5. Rock

    Approved doesnt mean that RMAF will get them earlier.You know how we tend to do things here.Funding approval just to make AF top brass feel happy and applaud his tenure and direction..Thats all.I will change my mind if RMAF able to sign the contract for that 12 helos early next year of the latest by june/july next year.

  6. Hulubalang “Do we need fancy LPD/LHD to do those tasks? It is a nice to have, but not really a must.”

    You missing the point really.
    Most of the things your proposed are mostly a one trick pony. Good for efficiency sake but not particularly great at being flexible.

    Efficiency always comes at the cost of flexibility and thus one of the reasons why IBM, Nokia, blackberry goes belly up.

    Military by occupation required flexibility because they unlike internal security, medical or educational sector aren’t doing the same jobs days by day but rather they have to perform whatever odds job the gov ask of them to perform.

    Strategic sealift is part of MRSS jobs just like patrol duty is part of LMS jobs. But it doesn’t mean it’s the only job its going to perform and thus RMN aren’t going to exchange MRSS & LMS with RoRo ferry & OPVs.

  7. … – “… Our MPCSS (Multi Purpose Command Support Ships) among their important tasks is to be command centers for small boats”

    No … Not as “commend centres” per see but more as “mother ships”, a means of replenishment and for ships to shelter as to speak when sea conditions are rough; a task previously perfumed by the Banggi, Jarom and Langkawi.

    … – “Logistics bridge between East and West Malaysia can be done with fast RORO ships”

    As has been pointed out the issue is that the MRSS is intended to perform various roles. Now if the requirement was for something to be a “logistics bridge between East and West Malaysia” then the issue becomes somewhat simpler but it isn’t.

    A RO RO is great for moving stuff from A to B but for something with more operational flexibility/utility a MPSS is needed and that is precisely why there has been an outstanding requirement for it… You will also note that the RMN often stresses the need for a MPSS to move stuff to the East and support UN ops but this is a sales pitch; the decision makers like to see something whinge has a civilian/peacetime utility.

  8. So funding will only come 1 RMK later. Let’s see if this will remain come the Cabinet reshuffle or perhaps another change in Govt.

    Being delayed is one thing, has TLDM already identified the ship that they wanted to get from? The ship selection seem to have quieted after LIMA.

  9. A friend of mine has about a year left for his current assignment; no 2 to a One Star at a training facility. As part of his career progression he should be given a ship command [his last was several years ago] but given that we only have so many ships and the LCSs are deleted; he might end up being given one of the Saktis.

  10. Of course lah, as no funding has been quaranteed they cannot go around asking for a design to choose. Until funding is confirmed, they cannot pin down the requirement.

  11. “Military by occupation required flexibility”

    How many things do you need a more than 400 million euro ship to do?
    https://www.defenceweb.co.za/sea/sea-sea/kalaat-beni-abbes-arrives-in-algeria/

    Flexibility does not mean you need to have 1 expensive ship doing multiple tasks. It can be 2 cheap ships that can do those same tasks. Which is why i propose instead of 1x MRSS, it can be 1x fast RORO + 1x OSV.

    For example the Ysabel, can easily transfer whole regiment/battalion of mechanised infantry or armoured cavalry worth of vehicles all in 1 trip. Even LPD like Kalaat Beni Abbes does not have the space to do that.

    1x fast RORO costs €7.5-10 million (like the Ysabel)
    https://emad.defensa.gob.es/en/operaciones/operaciones-en-el-exterior/21-Operacion_Libre_Hidalgo/noticias/listado/230424-ni-buque-ysabel-libano-turquia.html

    Plus 20-30 million USD for a locally built OSV

    Both fast RORO and OSV are ideal vessels for HADR missions. Ysabel has been used to transfer earthquake relief aid to Turkiye. Australian ADV Reliant is a dedicated Pacific HADR platform of australian military.

  12. zaft – ”Good for efficiency sake but not particularly great at being flexible.”

    Measure of success versus measure of efficiency. Ro-Ro ships are great – if – the primary task is to move stuff from A to B; all fine and one can give one’s self a pat on the back but that isn’t the primary task or a convenient conclusion; anymore than fanciful absolute notions a sub will always be more ”survivable” or that a corvette or a LMS will not ”survive” in a ”real’ war. Depends entirely on the operational context and some corvettes by the way are heavily armed; at LIMA 2001 I boarded the INS Kora; she has 16 Urans and is a ”corvette”.

    zaft – ”Strategic sealift is part of MRSS jobs just like patrol duty is part of LMS jobs. ”

    In the event of shite really hitting the fan; on paper; just like how MAS/AirAsia jets can be used; civilian ferries/freighters/Ro-Ro ships can be requisitioned.

  13. So a question; will TLDM be given the sum of funds they asked for for the MRSS or will it be more likely they will get something less and then TLDM will have to hunt for the ship that fits within their budget limit?

  14. Of course, that is the reason they were looking for cheaper option like the PT PAL ships. Of course the politicians want something more than that…

  15. The Spanish Navy has 2 LPD and 1 LHA. They didnt anchor their sealift fleet on ROROs. The UK Navy does have access to 4 commercial ROROs, but they also operate 2 LPDs. Indonesia anchors its transportation fleet around 3 LPD, one of which is a hospital ship – a role ROROs can’t take on. If we look at the Dutch Navy, they operate 2 LPD and 1 multi-role ship, in addition to 1 chartered commercial RORO. No one goes around anchoring fleets on commercial ROROs.

  16. “civilian ferries/freighters/Ro-Ro ships can be requisitioned.”
    Indeed its the reason why, disagreeing with hulubalang, we don’t have to mimic what the civilian marine has, and that MRSS must have functions they could perform more or have additional capabilities. If we needed RORO or OSV or oiler ships services, we could procure or requisition ad hoc services from the civilian marine easily. Even NATO now has subcontracted many support functions to civilian contractors ie A2A refueling done by Omega tankers.

  17. So what is malaysian operational need, that we must have requirements for MRSS that cannot be done by RORO-based ship? Do we have a requirement to attack/assault/invade another country?

    What is our current MPCSS role that cannot be done by a combination of RORO+OSV?

  18. kel – ”No one goes around anchoring fleets on commercial ROROs.”

    Like I said and keep saying : a mix of various things are needed; all complementing each other; all having a role. Almost nothing away with the need for something else; that’s not how it works. A Ro-Ro ship is great but it can never replace a MPSS; anymore than a rifle can a GMPG o a MRAP and IFV.

  19. … – “So what is malaysian operational need, that we must have requirements for MRSS that cannot be done by RORO-based ship”

    This has been done to death actually and the answer is plainly obvious if looked objectively and in totality rather than merely from a narrow self serving subjective lens . Again; a RO RO is great but mainly for moving things. It also BTW has poor seakeeping and DC.

    The MPSS is essentially a jack of all trades intended for a variety of roles : HADR, as a tender, sea lift, as part of a task force etc. Now obviously a Ro RO can’t be a substitute for a MPSS; anymore than a IFV for a MBT or a LCA for a MRCA.

    … – “Do we have a requirement to attack/assault/invade another country”

    A silly question. Does a requirement for a MPSS mean we intend to “attack/assault/invade another country”? By that logic does having MBTs mean we want to launch a army level armoured assault to the far reaches of Outer Mongolia?

    … – “Less money spent on MRSS requirements”

    Yes but you conveniently missed the part where getting a Ro Ro aa a substitute for a MPSS does not enable the level of capability seeked; spending less but not getting the capability. Measure of success versus measure of efficiency.

    A Ro Ro can supplement but not replace a MPSS.

  20. @hulubalang
    “requirements for MRSS that cannot be done by RORO”
    One that I can see the MPSS should come with, and that MPCSS lacks, is a well dock for amphib landings where docks are either too small for such a large ship, or not available, or made inoperable. During the Indian Ocean tsunami, Aussie LPDs helped to deliver aid vehicles direct to shore and their landing crafts help to send the wounded on board the ship for Medivac. IINM, we had also used the LST Inderapura to land on beaches for loading/unloading operations before but I cant be sure. Now pay attention that I didnt mention about doing DDays or US Marines landing assaults!

  21. “we had also used the LST Inderapura to land on beaches for loading/unloading operations before but I cant be sure”

    The Inderapura was never used for that role.

    The 1st Langkawi and the former USN LSTs were bit only on a handful of occasions.

    “n that I didnt mention about doing DDays or US Marines landing assaults”

    The last amphib assault was at San Carlos and before that during the Suez Crisis in 1956. By and large amphibious assaults; i.e. landing on an opposed beach; are over. The idea now to to go around or over any defended beach. An an exception however would be a future Taiwan war.

  22. >roro ship

    sure if they’re under auxiliary forces and not part of actual rmn fleet.

    >makassar
    Might as well ask shin yang for enlarged version of the LST that they sold to UAE

    >subs
    I think we need to move away from Scorpene. At least a modified version with actual AIP and increase in capability

  23. We need mrss badly as we need other things too. There is a long list in this side of the service because the procurement was never done properly since PSC Naval Dockyard. IMHO the gov better put the money to priority. Without the mrss can the RMN function properly in combat? It is better to look at our 2 submarines. Yes the cost is high but it is worth it, a force multiplier. Atleast one more AIP or Lithium enhanced Scorpene & then MRSS. We can always look for lease in the mrss but who would lease their subs?

  24. dundun – ”Might as well ask shin yang for enlarged version of the LST”

    If they actually have a design on hand and the MPSS requirement actually rules out a LST. The MPSS – by design – is actually more of a LPD.

    dundun – ”I think we need to move away from Scorpene.”

    In an ideal world; an improved variant of the Scorpene; incorporating various improvements [‘…’ will remind you of lithium batteries]; rather than a totally new design which will place a huge amount of strain on the RMN [a small under resourced all volunteer navy] from a support/training perspective. Various improvements would include a flank array; non penetrating masts; new decoy; etc [the list is a long one; only constrained by how much funds are in the piggy bank].

  25. The Inderapura was an exUSN LST. So it could have been this boat or a sistership. I wasnt sure about that.

    “Might as well ask shin yang for enlarged version of the LST that they sold to UAE”
    One might think it would have been that simple to enlarge an existing design but as now know from BNS enlargement of existing Gowind 2500 to a 3100 tone ship, nothing is ever that straightforward or simple or economical.

  26. ”was an exUSN LST”

    Indeed it was and thank you but I was referring to Langkawi, Banggi and Jarom.

    ”So it could have been this boat or a sistership.”

    No. Inderapura had derricks and a long bow ramp but we never used her for beach transfers. She was never beached; unlike the 1st Langkawi [in Sabah] and Banggi [there’s a a pic of her with a Sibmas leaving the bow doors].

    Qamarul – ”There is a long list in this side of the service because because the procurement was never done properly since PSC Naval Dockyard.”

    Correction – ”was never done properly” way before the NGOPV fiasco – thanks to the politicians and the importance they place in defence in the order of things. In the 1960’s and 1970’s we actually did what we needed to do in terms of procurement and planning; we had a insurgency problem; a newly declared EEZ and little likelihood of an external threat [we also had better leadership] but come the 1990’s the rot start to spread. Politics/national interests took precedence and defence became part of the patronage system.

    Qamarul – ”Without the mrss can the RMN function properly in combat?”

    Depends on the type of ”combat”; i.e. will we need to rush things east; use a MPSS as a command platform; etc.

    Qamarul – ”who would lease their subs?”

    In the past there have been various offers by some countries [including China] to lease subs [to other countries]; until newly built ones were delivered.

    Qamarul – ” It is better to look at our 2 submarines.”

    Not it’s not ”better”. It’s a gamble; making the needed choices and hoping they’re the right ones. If we’re faced with a situation which calls for subs and not a MPSS then great; hallelujah but if we’re faced with a situation which calls for a MPSS and not subs then not so great …

  27. is it wrong to quote NATO on the exact meaning of strategic sealift?

    also wrong to mention about PETRONAS project safina?

  28. This is the MRSS requirement from the deputy MENHAN himself

    “Keperluan MRSS ini adalah amat penting dalam melengkapkan aset Armada TLDM
    bagi memenuhi keperluan operasi ATM melalui kemampuan strategik sealift antara
    Semenanjung Malaysia dengan Sabah dan Sarawak. Di samping bantuan logistik dan
    kemanusiaan di peringkat antarabangsa apabila diperlukan”

    Requirement
    1) Strategic sealift supporting ATM operations between Semenanjung, Sabah and Sarawak
    2) HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) loistics operations on international level when needed.

    No mention of amphibious ops, helicopter ops etc.

    So what is the meaning of Strategic Sealift?

    Strategic Sealift is the transportation of vehicles and equipment to a staging area equipped with port facilities, with personnel arriving by other methods. NATO strategic sealift capability specifically mentions RORO ships as its main enabler
    https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_50104.htm

    If there is Strategic Sealift, there would be also Tactical Sealift. So what is the meaning of Tactical Sealift then?

    Tactical sealift occurs when a ship is carrying personnel along with vehicles and equipment, and is able to deploy them directly and operationally, like in an amphibious assault.

    MRSS requirement does not include the need for Tactical Sealift. No reason then to get LPD/LHD/LST or similar.

    So a RORO-based ship, similar to SPS Ysabel of the Spanish Navy, could fully fulfill the requirements of TLDM MRSS. As I posted previously, the SPS Ysabel has also been used to support HADR operations during the earthquake in Turkey early this year. The SPS Ysabel was acquired by Spanish Navy as a secondhand vessel for €7.5 million only. It is able to transport 5,000 linear meters of light vehicles on its six decks and also offers a configuration to transport up to 1,300 meters of heavy vehicles combined with 2,000 meters of light vehicles. The maximum capacity is 1,200 vehicles. The vessel has a load capacity of 4,225 tons, being able to transport up to 1,117 in its six ro-ro decks vehicles or 110 trailers between 32 and 54 tons in weight.

    To enable quick recapitalisation of TLDM fleet, to also fulfill the concept of HANRUH, and to leverage the economies of scale; MINDEF and TLDM should collaborate, and join PETRONAS with the Project Safina. Project Safina is Petronas’s new build programme which aims to build up to 100 vessels over the next four to five years to phase out the old vessels which are reaching the age limit of 15 years. The Phase 1 project involves the construction of 16 OSVs, build at 10 local malaysian shipyards. TLDM could collaborate and piggyback this project with Petronas, to build OSVs and also my proposed LMS-X that is also based on oil&gas vessels, to get ships on budget and on time. OSVs as now used by many navies such as Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy could be used for many missions, such as MCM Mothership, SF support, Submarine tender and support, UAS/USV/UUV support, pipeline and undersea infrastructure security/surveillance, maritime presence, HADR support and much more.
    https://www.bernama.com/en/business/news.php?id=2239272

  29. NATO now? Direct comparisons?

    To answer your question. What is “wrong” is to only look at things from a narrow self serving perspective and assume everything lines up the way you think they should … BTW an objective assessment of things includes taking into account both the pluses and the minuses and looking at things in the proper context.

    A Ro RO can never be a substitute for a MPS; anymore than a LMG can for a HMG or a MLRS for an arty piece. There is a place for everything in the right mix. All complementing each other. Measure of success versus measure of efficiency.

    In case you haven’t noticed; nobody’s denying the utility of a Ro Ro; don’t make it look like that’s the case. Yes

  30. This is Malaysia. The moment you say misssion accomplished, we now have that capability, the check books close for decades. So RMN ends up having to rely on ROROs for the next 30 years. This is the same reason people ought not to praise rehulls. Also as with the LMS2 and and RMAF 2nd medium heli order, what is the issue? Government says they are willing to spend. The country is not bankrupt. Users have been asking for higher defence spending. Users want those assets? What seems to be the problem?

  31. … – ”No mention of amphibious ops, helicopter ops etc.”

    So? Since when is every single requirement/role stated? Also, do you need a reminder that we have a whole list of assets which performed roles which were never foreseen or planned for?

    … – ”So what is the meaning of Strategic Sealift?”

    I would think that most here would be able to make the distinction between ”tactical” and ”strategic” lift which by the way have very blurred lines. Not written in stone or holy writ.

    … – ”MRSS requirement does not include the need for Tactical Sealift.”

    You are looking at things in absolutes… If say a battalion’s worth of troops was rushed to Bintulu from Kuantan as part of a ”amphib movement” which is an administrative and not operational exercise – tactical or strategic? If say a company’s worth of paras were dropped on an existing airhead to augment paras which are already there; as opposed to paras dropping to seize a bridge as part of a combat op; tactical/operational or administrative? Answer: depends on the context. Just like how one navies ”corvette” could be another navy’s ”frigate” and how a ”destroyer” in one navy could be a ”cruiser” in another.

    … – ”No reason then to get LPD/LHD/LST or similar.”

    By all means write to the RMN and make it see the error of its ways. I’m not suggesting the men in blue are infallible but they put in a lot of thought [this may surprise you] in laying out what they need and how they think they’ll operate what they need…. If they didn’t think they needed a ”MPSS” which is essentially a LPD; they wouldn’t have had a longstanding requirement for it would they now …

    … – ” So a RORO-based ship, similar to SPS Ysabel of the Spanish Navy, could fully fulfill the requirements of TLDM MRSS. ”

    Again; a Ro Ro ship is great if the primary purpose is to move things from A to B ”but” [here’s the keyword] if the requirement is for a hull which can perform various peace and wartime roles [ranging from HADR to sealift to a command element] in varying operational conditions then what we call a ”MPSS” provide more flexibility. Note [in case you mention prices as you are fond of]; I’m referring to operational flexibility. I will also remind you – again – that due to their design Ro Ro ships have poor seakeeping an DC.

    … – ”OSVs as now used by many navies”

    Yes as you tirelessly and diligently point out every chance you get; I think all here agree.

    … – ”TLDM could collaborate and piggyback this project with Petronas, to build OSVs and also my proposed LMS-X that is also based on oil&gas vessels, ”

    Well hallelujah to your proposed LMS-X [I’ll pat you on the back if I could] but how many OSVs does the RMN need and how do they figure in the overall scheme of things as far as priorities go? To me those are the pertinent questions as opposed to what we can or should do on paper …

  32. When quoting NATO, I’m sure its clear that while some Navies do have RoRo’s in their fleet, the majority of NATO RoRos are actually contracted civilian ships. The RoRos are not owned or operated by the Navies, but chartered from companies when required. So why would RMN go buy RoRos when they could just charter them when needed? The idea of RoRos can replace a MRSS is similar to saying RMAF should just buy a bunch of civilian A380s since they are cheap on the secondary market and could be modified with a rampinstead of spending more for the Atlas and Charlies.

  33. kel – ”This is the same reason people ought not to praise rehulls.”

    And the same reason the armed services are wary of getting use/pre owned as an interim solution; the decision makers might use this as a pretext for further delays. Has happened before.

    kel – ”So why would RMN go buy RoRos when they could just charter them when needed? ”

    His argument is that we can save money and that money can be used on frigates and subs. He overlooks that it’s not written in stone that frigates and subs will always be needed more urgently than a MPSS and that if we save cash by getting a Ro Ro we still do not get the capability we wanted; the capability a MPSS enables.

  34. @hulubalang
    Nato is not Msia but for the benefit it is semantics what is said by MENHAN. We have neither the enablements nor resources for a strategic lift operation, and neither 2 MPSS nor ROROS will give us that ability. In truth we only have enough for a tactical lift while basing mostly what we need at East MY. Another key point you ignored was the HADR portion which ROROS are illequipped for, as it has no ability to transfer onto land when there is no proper dock or pier after a massive natural disaster.

    “such as Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy”
    The RN has Albion class amphib ships and RAN has Canberra class LHD….

  35. “If they didn’t think they needed a ”MPSS” which is essentially a LPD”

    MPSS requirement 10 years ago is different from MRSS requirement now, similar like the LMS requirement now is not the same as LMS requirement 10 years ago.

    In the past there is a push for the military to create our own “marine corps”, of which i would understand the need of LPDs. There is no such requirements now.
    .
    .
    .
    “how many OSVs does the RMN need and how do they figure in the overall scheme of things as far as priorities go? To me those are the pertinent questions as opposed to what we can or should do on paper”
    3 OSV for TLDM, plus 3 more OSV for APMM that is primarily set-up as offshore rescue tug and salvage vessel. TLDM OSVs would be set up to do MCM Mothership, SF support, Submarine tender and support, UAS/USV/UUV support, pipeline and undersea infrastructure security/surveillance patrol and general patrol duties.
    https://www.malaysiandefence.com/pac-report-on-lcs-october-9-2023/#comment-879277

    .
    “So why would RMN go buy RoRos when they could just charter them when needed?”
    Owning, rather than leasing can give a better flexibility in operations, going to destinations that are not covered by normal commercial routes, and be able to do modifications the ship itself to better fit military equipments on board. Also there is not many RORO in ASEAN area that could carry heavy equipments like tanks, ifvs, heavy trailer trucks, unlike in Europe for example. Previously, most of the time Malaysian Army heavy IFVs are transported not by RORO, but with general cargo ships and needed to be craned in and out of the ships.

    Although unglamorous, the US military owns a lot of RORO ships.

  36. “We have neither the enablements nor resources for a strategic lift operation, and neither 2 MPSS nor ROROS will give us that ability”

    A RORO like the SPS Ysabel can carry 110 trailers between 32 and 54 tons in weight. PT-91M Pendekar weighs 46 tons, AV8 Gempita 30 tons, ACV300 Adnan 14 tons, so it could easily carry 2 battalions/regiments of IFVs and tanks at 1 go,

    “The RN has Albion class amphib ships and RAN has Canberra class LHD….”
    Yes, RN even has aircraft carriers and ballistic missile submarines. Anyway we don’t have the requirement to do Tactical Sealift. We are geared for defending our own territory, or own soil. Why do we want to do amphibious landing on area where we already have our own forces there? Remember ARMY 4NEXT-G requirement is to have balanced forces on both east and west malaysia.

  37. So what is the issue? Government says will seek to fund MRSS. Its been established MRSS is superior to RoRos. Users want the MRSS. Its the same with the RMAF helis. RMAF wants the helis. Govt says will fund it. Country is not bankrupt. Maybe less tongkat. What is the issue? When government say no money for defence, its bad. When government say will provide the money, also bad?

  38. … – ”MPSS requirement 10 years ago is different from MRSS requirement now”

    When and how did you come up with that? Whether it’s the present or prior to the loss of Inderapura; the requirement has not changed : a LPD design called the ”MPSS” to perform a variety of war and peacetime roles. Not changed; anymore than the MRCA requirement has changed over the years; in terms of actual roles it’s intended to perform.

    … – ”now is not the same as LMS requirement 10 years ago.”

    ”10 years ago” there was no ”LMS requirement”; that was only fully agreed on during the period the 5/15 was released.

    … – ‘In the past there is a push for the military to create our own “marine corps”, of which i would understand the need of LPDs.”

    You are assuming that the main means of transport for this unit was to have been a MPSS; it wasn’t.” Amphib assault” wasn’t the main reason for this unit. It was ”littoral ops”; along the coast or in the Spratlys; by CB-90’s, FTVs, helos or whatever means.

    … – ”Owning, rather than leasing can give a better flexibility”

    You’ve finally mentioned ”flexibility”. Good because a ”MPSS” provides the ‘flexibility” desired/needed and is precisely why there is and has long been a requirement for it. BTW there is such aa thing a ”requisition” which we did for Op Fajar and ESSCOM. What the Brits refer to as ”taken up from the trade” ….

    … – ”We are geared for defending our own territory, or own soil. Why do we want to do amphibious landing on area where we already have our own forces there?”

    ”Amphib assault”? Personally I don’t see the likelihood as likely in our context; not because we lack the enablers but one merely has to deny us access to the sea lanes rather than physically control real estate. Also, as pointed out to you when we had the discussion on MBTs; one can have a defensive strategy but not necessarily a ”positionalist approach” : ”active defence”. Having a defensive strategy doesn’t mean one has a positionalist approach or what the Germans call ”Stellungskrieg”.

    … – ”Anyway we don’t have the requirement to do Tactical Sealift. ”

    You sure about that or think you’re sure?

    As alluded to in a prior post; differentiate ”tactical” and ”strategic”; ”administrative” and ”operational;” – nothing’s holy writ; depends on the context.
    As mentioned previously – ”If say a battalion’s worth of troops was rushed to Bintulu from Kuantan as part of a ”amphib movement” which is an administrative and not operational exercise – tactical or strategic? If say a company’s worth of paras were dropped on an existing airhead to augment paras which are already there; as opposed to paras dropping to seize a bridge as part of a combat op; tactical/operational or administrative?”

    … – ”Also there is not many RORO in ASEAN area that could carry heavy equipments like tanks, ifvs, heavy trailer trucks, ”

    For the simple reason that ”many” don’t need the capability; if they do they’ll ”lease”, ”requisition” or ”charter” it; like how the the SAF moves heavy kit to Australia and how China would use civilian ferries/freighters/Ro Ros to cross the Taiwan Straits.

    … – ” Remember ARMY 4NEXT-G requirement is to have balanced forces on both east and west malaysia.”

    ”Remember” that it’s just a plan; dependent on funding. Also note that compared to years prior to 2013 have a much larger military presence there.

  39. @hulubalang
    “so it could easily carry 2 battalions/regiments”
    Literal putting all the eggs into one basket. And is our East MY dock/harbours all of them capable to load/unload such a huge ship?

    “Why do we want to do amphibious landing on area”
    We don’t. We would want to do amphib landings where we could not reach our forces, like in disaster areas where the only dock was destroyed by a tsunami or sabotaged by retreating enemy forces.

  40. …. – “Google US Military Sealif Command, and look at how many ROROs they owned”

    A reminder… Again. Nobody is disputing the value/utility of a Ro Ro. That is not the case and don’t make it sound like it is…

  41. The Navy only has 2 Sri Indera Sakti supply ships that are 40 years old. By the time the MRSS gets delivered, the Indera Sakti’s will be pushing 50. Isn’t it obvious why new MPSS or MRSS is needed, just like why LMS2 and LCS is needed? Or no need to worry about age, re-hull and refit is the answer. Then consider what the Indera Saktis have been doing (the missions they have been assigned) and see if RoRos can replace the Indera Saktis.

  42. Kel – “en government say no money for defence, its bad. When government say will provide the money, also bad?”

    He’s not saying it’s “bad”, only “flawed”. This is because in his world view they’ve [unlike him] got it completely wrong; instead of getting an “expensive” MPSS they should get a cheaper Ro Ro which according to him can fulfil all the roles of a MPSS.

    This fanciful argument doesn’t stand up to scrutiny because a Ro Ro is not a substitute for a MPSS and getting a Ro Ro saves money but it doesn’t deliver the needed capability. The idea is that costs savings gained by buying a cheaper Ro Ro can be channeled towards other things but this is based on the assumption that other things will be needed note then a MPSS.

    The RMN has thought long and hard about what it needs and a MPSS has long been something seen as essential: up there in the list of priorities; it’s not for fun or to waste public funds …

  43. Kel – “The Navy only has 2 Sri Indera Sakti supply ships that are 40 years old. By the time the MRSS gets delivered, the Indera Sakti’s will be pushing 50“

    To add; even when the Inderapura was still operated there was already a MPSS requirement due to certain inadequacies with the Saktis. Thus requirement was a priority for a while but like various things we shifted priorities.

    Kel – “see if RoRos can replace the Indera Saktis”

    They can perform some of the roles but can’t be a complete substitute; anymore than a Panzer 38T can replace a Panzer IV or a FAC a corvette.

  44. OOT. Yesterday Menhan all but confirmed the MPAS are most definitely the ATR72 and the buy is moving forward concretely.

    Oddly the reasoning to buy was because our radars could not detect subs underwater. LOL!

    Also the 5 Spexer radars are confirmed to be spoiled beyond repair and will be scrapped. Hopefully they could be cannibalised to make 1 or 2 workable units. Their replacements will come under RMK13 budget.

  45. Also off topic.

    The MBB-339CMs were retired due to engines issues; that is well known. The thing is; at L<IMA 2019 a Serb company was contracted to overhaul the Rolls Royce engines.

  46. Also off topic.

    The MBB-339CMs were retired due to engines issues; that is well known. The thing is; at LIMA 2019 a Serb company was contracted to overhaul the Rolls Royce engines.

  47. Off topic the army has received the 6 UASs supplied by Global Komited. A Chinese design.
    What’s confusing is that a previous report said these were from Mindmatics.

    Does anyone know what radar 320 Squadron operates?

  48. Marhalim,

    Apart from this one I’ve mentioned; the Anka one and the ones for Mavics 1-2 years ago; where there any others in recent years?

  49. For those interested, a year or so ago the US Armed Forces has banned the procurement and use, whether as officially issued or personal owned, a few drone brands and DJI is top of the list ostensibly because it is from China and apparently some of their coms electronics is a blackbox.

  50. The problem according to the US, is the fact that when the data is uploaded on the Internet, the data will be sent to the company’s server which is in China. It is the same argument against putting Huawei 5G system, the data will transferred to China (same with Tik Tok and other China designed software system including Alipay). I think the MY government also believed the argument, hence we bought the 5G infrastructure from Ericson for DNB.

  51. On the TLDM and APMM joining forces with PETRONAS in Project Safina. There are many advantages in this. Among them are

    1) PETRONAS experience in project management. Joining this will leverage PETRONAS vast experience and resources in Project Management. A big reason why PETRONAS was the one managing the KLCC and Putrajaya construction project. Ensuring the project would be in spec, on budget and on time.

    2) Economies of scale and enhancing local shipbuilding ecosystem. Project Safina expects to build up to 100 new ships in about 5 years time. It involves 10 local shipyards. For TLDM and APMM to add 30-40 more ships into this program would increase the economies of scale, stabilising the cost. Paying in RM to local shipbuilders would also protect the budget from volatile exchange rate fluctuations. With 10 shipyards involved, the secondary economic effect would be felt in more communities around malaysia, especially in Sabah and Sarawak. This would also tie into the KEMENTAH goal of developing the local defence industry. The pool of knowledgeable manpower resource (managers, engineers, designers, technicians) would increase as they are needed by 10 different shipyards.

    3) Rapidly increasing the number of new ships in the water, at low cost. 70+m Rescue Tow and Salvage OSV for APMM and 80+m multi-purpose OSV for TLDM would cost around 30-40 million USD each. 55m LMS-X based on the FCS5009 around 30 million USD each (10mil ship + 5 mil ASELSAN SMASH 30mm RCWS & Giraffe 1X AESA radar + 15mil anti-ship missile module). For 6x OSV and 24x LMS-X up to 2030 (a total of 30 new ships), that would cost around USD1.1 billion, or roughly RM5 billion with current exchange rate. Compare that to the RM6.6 billion total planned budget for 8x LMS Batch 2. These ships also has much more capable HADR capability, with large spaces to be used for multiple uses, large tankage capability enable fuel to be transported and transferred.

    4) Including other ships that is needed by APMM. These local shipyards are more than capable of building ships that is needed by APMM such as the 45m NGPC, 25m PC, 14m FIC, 12.8m RHFB. Joining forces with PETRONAS means that the project will be very well managed.

    5) Able to finally retire very old boats. Getting many new ships in spec, on budget and on time will enable TLDM and APMM to retire many very old boats, some that is even 60 years old. Newer ships means cheaper sustainment, better hydrodynamic design, better ergonomics/habitability, better sensors (radar, EO, etc) than the old ships.

  52. “I think the MY government also believed the argument”
    Indeed but while the civvie telco swayed away from Chinese devices, our MAF went for it, worse its their intel division. *facepalm*

  53. The China 5G issue relates to all telecommunications equipment made by China companies (i.e., Huawei and ZTE), covering 4G, 5G, and any wireless equipment (e.g., wifi routers, modems, mobile phones, CCTV, etc). The reason why countries end up not using China equipment is the threat of 1) No more intelligence sharing, 2) No more investments (because Western companies are barred from working with the banned equipment), and 3) No access to western technology (because western equipment cannot be integrated with the banned equipment). The issue of sending data back to China is irrelevant since Western equipment and services also send data back to the US (e.g., Android, Apple, Tesla, GPS devices, Facebook, X, Whatsapp, Microsoft, etc.). In fact, technically the US can track all GPS data since they own the system. It’s really more of 1) Who do you trust more, 2) Who are you more comfortable sharing the data with, and 3) Who do you need more. It’s the same with buying military equipment. If Malaysia buys “high tech” China equipment that would require integration with US equipment, either 1) US will not allow integration (think SU-30MKM integration with US weapons), or 2) US will block sale of their equipment (think NATO Turkey being denied the F-35). So, the change in policy by allowing Huawei and ZTE to sell their 5G equipment in Malaysia might have repercussions down the road. But will have to see.

  54. Hulubalang “Economies of scale and enhancing local shipbuilding ecosystem.”

    Assuming that petronas even want to build most of it locally.

    1)Petronas trade a lot with SK & PRC and thus has no shortage of won nor yuan. The one who had shortage of won & yuan are bank negara & by extension MOF but not petronas

    2)SK & PRC already operating at economics of scale at the same times they also subsidies their shipyard operations.

    3) shipyards in ASEAN even the one petronas owned mostly specialised in repurposed & refit & not construction of new vessels. New vessels are mostly built either by SK or PRC.

  55. @kel
    “Western equipment and services also send data back to the US”
    I believe many who are social media users would be aware of this and would care depending on who mines their social data. While many would accept its a necessary thing for West to take your data its usually done by Western corporations for profit purpose ie sell adverts, but for China its their PRC Govt that is keeping your data and you dont know what they will do with it so thats what scares the bejeezus out of everyone and I doubt that policy about backend hardware will change anytime soon unless we got a PRC friendly PM. Very unlikely. Also there is the fear that with the blackbox electronics they could activate a kill switch if we ever get into a fight with them.

    So if our military spooks are willing to use Chinese gear, its likely they; 1) Dont foresee us coming into conflict with China anytime soon & 2) Its likely they wont have field level collaborations with Western allies anytime soon.

  56. @Zaft
    “Assuming that petronas even want to build most of it locally.”
    They are still a for profit organisation (a reason they are a perpetual cash cow) so if it makes more financial & technical sense going overseas they will go for it. They dont see themselves being too tied up with ‘national service’ duties and wholly subservient to the Govt whims & fancies.

  57. “Assuming that petronas even want to build most of it locally”

    That is YOUR assumption

    In reality Project SAFINA is a totally 100% local shipbuilding program involving 10 local shipbuilders under Association Of Marine Industries Of Malaysia (AMIM)

    Local shipbuilders are more than capable of building OSV type of ships. Before commenting, understand the topic 1st, at least read the Bernama news link I have previously posted.

  58. Joe “So if our military spooks are willing to use Chinese gear, its likely they 1) Dont foresee us coming into conflict with China anytime soon & 2) Its likely they wont have field level collaborations with Western allies anytime soon.”

    While Supposedly the western military is looking at Winged VTOL as a replacement for scaneagle & other tactical UAV but there’s isn’t exactly an winged VTOL available off the shelf from any western manufacturers (except from Israel) for now.

    Hulubalang “Local shipbuilders are more than capable of building OSV type of ships”

    Capable is one thing, economical is another.

  59. @Zaft
    “except from Israel”
    But unlike us, the Western powers have no qualms to using Israeli stuff and some did. If they wanted it they will surely able to get it.

  60. For a very long time now we do not foresee troubles with China; at least not full blown open war. In the very unlikely event there is trouble with China the politician’s first worry will not be about a RMN ship getting hit by a heavyweight wakehomer; thousands of mines laid off Sepanggar or cruise missiles battering Gong Kedak but the economy. If the economic effects of Covid were bad; will pale in comparison to what happens if shite breaks out with China…

    As for ”field level collaborations with Western allies” despite our open neutrality or non alignment we have closer ties with the U.S. and Australia. We know this from Wikileaks [Chinese officials expressing frustration at the lingering distrust we have towards them]; the fact that the only permanent base Australia has abroad is in Malaysia and other things including the fact we train more regularly; more realistically and more extensively with the U.S. and Australia compared to anyone else. See also the Murray Hunter piece on the alleged operation in cooperation with the CIA in the Spratlys.

    As for Israel; open forum thus I won’t mention more about what we supposedly do and things I know we do – things are often not what they seem to be especially when there are mutual interests. On another note spyware from Israel has turned up here and it’s no major secret that various things are rerouted or rebranded before ending up here.

  61. “we have closer ties with the U.S. and Australia.”
    We may not see any issues using our Chinese gear during exercises & operations with Western forces but quite sure they will see problems about us using these Chinese gears if it has to interface with their Western stuff.

    “I won’t mention more about what we supposedly do”
    Granted your secrecy as Im sure in the background, practicality trumps over petty political backlash, as long as it not used, seen or acknowledged openly. But things like a Heron UAV, or Raphael RWS, or Saar corvette would be unmistakably Zion created and would not fly with the general public. Others are not handicapped as such tho.

  62. “but quite sure they will see problems about us using these Chinese gears if it has to interface with their Western stuff.”

    Yes but we have not planned or have bought anything Chinese that has to interface with Western stuff.

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