O&G Ships for Patrols?

SHAH ALAM: IT appears that APMM is moving towards using idle Oil and Gas (O&G) industry ships to augment its patrol fleet. Not much details on the proposed move yet apart from a tweet by APMM chief Datuk Ahmad Puzi Abd Kahar this morning.

I am trying to get more details but its likely that the APMM will lease Malaysian-flagged O&G ships laid idle by the low oil prices. How many and when it will start is the unknown at the moment. It must be noted that due to the Petroleum Development Act 194, ships involved in the local O&G industry must be Malaysian-flagged.

A screenshot of the APMM chief tweet.
A screenshot of the APMM chief tweet.

The proposed programme is under the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) just like how the RMN uses Bunga Mas Lima and Tun Azizan ships.

Naval Auxiliary Vessel, Bunga Mas Lima
Naval Auxiliary Vessel, Bunga Mas Lima

For a better perspective on using non-naval ships for patrol duties, read the excellent post by Think Defence on the issue. Go Here

KM Perwira, one of the two Bay class patrol boats donated to MMEA by Australia. It is likely that the Bay class was the design proposed for the tri-nation VLPV project  in the late 80s.
KM Perwira, one of the two Bay class patrol boats donated to MMEA by Australia. It is likely that the Bay class was the design proposed for the tri-nation VLPV project in the late 80s.

One of own regular reader – … – has also proposed using O&G ships by the APMM for patrols to overcome the country’s financial constraints. It appears that APMM is also thinking the same thing.

Tanjung Pinang 2, one of the Malaysian flag ships owned by icon Offshore Bhd.
Tanjung Pinang 2, one of the Malaysian flag ships owned by icon Offshore Bhd.

Like its sister services, APMM is hampered by the uncertainty in funding – both in operational and procurement programmes. By leasing idle O&G ships it may be able to conduct more patrols in Malaysian waters especially it is saddled with one of the oldest patrol fleet in the region.

APMM is expected to operate six new patrol boats by 2018 with another two OPVs expected to come on line by 2020 – if the funding is not disrupted due to the current economic headwinds.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2207 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. So it seems that APMM boffins read Malaysiandefence regularly eh?

    I wish, most likely the industry looking for help

  2. I believe NBOS team has data miners to look out for new ideas on the Internet (yes, im talking about you NBOS Research Assistants). If they are really reading this, I think that they are on the right path to really enhance the defence of malaysian sovereignty (and personally I would be very honored to be able to contribute to the NBOS).

  3. Great idea for the MMEA. They dont need ships armwd to the teeth. But these ships do need to be armed with at least 1 40 mm gun n two or three 20 or 30mm guns . This is to provide teeth when meeting coast guard ships from China or against Sulu invaders.
    Recently the indonesian authorities were forced to let go of a detained chinese fishibg vessel by a larger chinese ciast guard vessel. Some modifications for a heli pad n hardpoint to mount weapons must be made.
    A win win situation for both parties, quick n cost effective. Can almost after several months have at least 3 or 4 additional ships for patrolling.

    Unlikely they could put up a 40mm or 30mm RWS on-board ships, most likely to cost issues. However, pintle mounted machine guns are possible. The trick is to put these ships in places they are not likely to meet up with vessels from bigger or belligerent countries. While the armed APMM ships patrol these sensitive areas, the leased O&G ships could be use at more benign areas like the peninsula east coast where the threats are mostly illegal fishermen and wreck hunters. Langkawi is another area where these ships could be handy.

  4. Vessel crewed by civilian and coastguards on board calls the shot eh? APMM Act covers this kind of setup for peacetime? Never came upon this kind of arrangement for agency other than Navy.

    I am not a lawyer but based on a cursory reading of the APMM Act, I believed the APMM DG has the powers for such an arrangement. The power I believed comes under provisions that the DG could issue “Standing Orders” to run the agency as provided under the law. The act also spelled out that in wartime or crisis, the APMM is reverted to under the powers of the Defence Minister.

  5. Well, that’s a good thing. Still, did they really read Malaysian Defence? Really curious on that…

  6. A few .3 and .5 calibre per ship would be sufficient for those ATHTs to handle pirates, illegal fishers and smugglers in Peninsular Malaysia. Let the kedah and the langkawi concentrate on Sabah.

    Most likely GPMGs only as a box of rounds of the 50 BMG cost a pretty penny and that’s just the normal ones not Raufoss HEI!

  7. yeah you right…during the weekend watch a history channel program that stated a normal 50 caliber round cost USD3 per bullet while the Armoured Pierceing round cost USD60 per bullet in the US. Guess with all the import tax and middleman commission in Malaysia, it would be triple of that here.

  8. For serious pintle mounted firepower, there is this twin .50cal mount.


    Mounted on uss tornado in the persian gulf


    But the most ideal items to have on a Mmea patrol craft is water cannons (usually already installed on PSVs) and LRAD devices.

    Eight .50 calibre guns, each with 300 round ammo box on board a Malaysian boat? The Finance people will have heart attacks…

  9. Lets go for Miniguns!!!

    The APMM has yet to catch the mini-gun fever. That said it is very suitable for the application

  10. Lee – ” But these ships do need to be armed with at least 1 40 mm gun n two or three 20 or 30mm guns .”

    Actually, priority will be in ensuring they are fitted with the needed comms to enable them to communicate with other MMEA assets and with RMN ships – that comes first. The weapons fit is secondary as it’s a last resort self-defence weapon.When it comes confronting intruders in our EEZ; the issue of what weapons are on board is secondary; of major importance is having a presence there to back our claim that the waters are ours. Presence and fast reaction times are the key to dealing with intruders NOT weapons. Also, if we up the ante and play tough, China can also up the ante by deploying PLAN ships instead of the Maritime enforcement and Fisheries ships that are the ones mostly entering our waters. And for every ship we deploy; they can deploy 5 if they want to …….

    As Marhalim said, any requisitioned O&G ships are not meant to be put in a situation where they have to confront intruders or I’d like to add; a situation in which a 12.7mm or a 20mm gun is not sufficient to deal with whatever the situation is! We also have to bear in mind that requisitioned O&G ships – being originally designed for O&G related work – will be useful for roles like routine patrolling, SAR, etc but not for other roles.

    In fact, of far more importance than having ”firepower” is having a FLIR or other devices todetect, track and designate contacts at certain distances and in adverse weather. Instead of heavily arming these ships, which will be superfluous, I’d rather the cash be spent ensuring they have a decent comms and sensor suite ….

  11. It’s not feasible to mount 30/35/40mm gun on a commercial ship without significant hull strengthening because deck penetration would weaken the entire ship structure.

    Not only that military vessels is built with higher specification than commercial ship, they are also built with ship penetration in mind(for gun turret, SAMs, etc)

    I believe the light weight 30mm LF in a RWS could be fitted on any of O&G ship selected for the role. The gun is the same one fitted on the Apache attack helicopters but modified to accept link feed rounds. The EOS RWS is also fitted with a 50 round ammo box compared to 200 ammo box fitted on standard RWS like MSI or the Aselsan SMASH. The 30mm LF fires smaller light weight rounds compared to the 30mm Mk44 guns on the MSI and SMASH.

  12. @ dundun

    What kind of 30/35/40mm guns needs to have deck penetrations?

    even the old 40mm bofors on the vosper PC is just bolted onto the deck, no penetrations whatsoever..

  13. Dundun – ”Not only that military vessels is built with higher specification than commercial ship,”

    No. Some civilian registered ships, especially those built for certain kinds of niche tasks; have higher built specs. Just because a ship is registered commercially or is built according to commercial standards doesn’t necessarily mean it has ”lower specs” than a naval ship. Actually, it is not uncommon of naval ships to be built to commercial standards [Loyds Register]. It is also not uncommon for some tankers to have better damage control than some naval ships [for different reasons off course].

    The problem with fitting some naval guns [even to naval ships] is actually not the issue of deck penetration but of long term damage to the deck caused by firing. In the case of former O&G ships however, this problem will not encountered – not as if were looking at fitting 4.5 inch guns on them.

    Like in the case of the MISC ships used in the Gulf of Aden and in ESSCOM; priority will be in fitting them with the needed comms; as well as making certain modifications including to the living areas and to enable the fast launching of RHIBs. Fitting them with a self-defence capability [whether 20 or 30mm or pintle mounted HMGs] is the least of the problems.

  14. Old bofors gun doesn’t need deck penetration because they are manually rotated (with hand crack) and the munition is fed from top.

    Nowadays they are motor driven and the munition is fed under the chamber. Even Goalkeepers and Phalanx have deck penetration

  15. Dundun

    The vast majority of 20mm/30mm/40mm mounts these days are non deck penetrating. Same goes with RAM and SEA RAM (RAM and Phalanx). The 40mm L/60 was power ooerated and non deck penetrating.

  16. @ dundun

    Seems that you have a fetish for penetrations…

    Did you have a chance to go on board kd inderapura? FYI the phalanx was installed on the roof of the bridge. It is a standalone system and no deck (or in this case roof) penetration whatsoever.

  17. Singapore Strait Times headline today mentioned ” Over 100 Chinese boats spotted off Sarawak, says KL ” with an official reply from China…”chinese trawlers are in relevant water carrying out normal fishing activities”.

  18. In da old days nelayan can go anywhere and not involve all this politic. They r innocent party.

  19. Thats why we need more Mmea ships on the water.

    Curiously as off 12.16 Mar 26, the Navy chief tweeted that no foreign vessels sighted at Beting Patinggi Ali based on observations by KD Serang stationed there.

  20. kinda fishy about this 100 prc boats as they would have to come in and out off the viet-phil controlled eez to come here and they (viet-phil) knows nothing about it, a fleet that large is hard to miss and they for sure dont come out of thin air either

    is shahidan kasim report is even credible in the first place?

    It was a Bernama story so if it was wrong a correction would have been made. Reuters which credited the Bernama also confirmed about the 100 ship story from an APMM official

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