Old Is Gold, Part 2

The MSRF info-graphic. Singapore MINDEF

SHAH ALAM: As the RMN is conducting the Obsolescence Programme to allow its FAC fleet to continue service for at least another 15 years (three Malaysian Plans), our southern neighbour has repurposed its former Fearless class patrol boats into maritime security vessels.

Four of the former patrol boats now formed a new maritime security and response flotilla (MRSF together with two tugboats, also repurposed for the same role. The new flotilla was announced yesterday.

From Singapore Defence Ministry.

Maritime Security and Response Flotilla

The MSRF info-graphic. Singapore MINDEF

Sentinel-class Maritime Security and Response Vessels
The MSRF will be responsible to develop and operate calibrated capabilities to provide the Singapore government and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) with more options to respond to maritime incidents. The capabilities raised by the MSRF will provide flexibility to meet the increased demands and a wider scope of maritime security operations, and offer greater persistence to protect Singapore’s territorial waters. The MSRF will form an important part of the restructured Maritime Security Command.
The MSRF will operate new purpose-built vessels from 2026. As a start, the flotilla will operate four Sentinel-class Maritime Security and Response Vessels (MSRVs). It will also operate two Maritime Security and Response Tugboats (MSRTs). In line with other international maritime security agencies, these vessels will all bear red “racing” stripes on their bow.

Four ex-Fearless class patrol vessels have been refurbished as the Sentinel-class MSRVs. In addition to refitting the vessels to extend their operational lifespan, the Sentinel-class MSRVs will be installed with a range of calibrated capabilities. This includes enhanced communications equipment, improved visual and audio warning systems, installation of a fender system and modular ballistics protection.

Name Pennant Number
MSRV Sentinel 55
MSRV Guardian 56
MSRV Protector 57
MSRV Bastion 58

MSRV Sentinel and MSRV Guardian will enter into operational service today, while MSRV Protector and MSRV Bastion will be refurbished and operationalised in the coming months.

Maritime Security and Response Tugboats

Two tugboats will join the MSRF under a long-lease arrangement. As dedicated tugboats, they will enable the RSN to better respond to and assist incidents at sea, as well as support base operations.

Future Purpose-built Vessels

The future purpose-built vessels are still in the early stages of concept design. They are expected to be larger than the Sentinel-class MSRVs and have longer endurance to operate at sea for up to a few weeks. Additionally, these vessels will be designed for lean manning with modular capabilities.

The former RSS Dauntless seen during an exercise in 2018. By Indian Navy – https://www.indiannavy.nic.in/node/18348, GODL-India, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67354805

As stated the vessels have been equipped with balistic protection, communication and a fender system to allow “come alongside vessels of interest quickly” or fast boarding. Singaporean maritime analyst Collin SL Koh has this to say on this

Received some queries and comments that the Sentinel class MSRVs are specially modified for ramming. I’ll explain. That’s not the only rationale. In a high-speed pursuit the MSRV may try to be alongside the target vessel close enough so personnel can board.Of course, in a maritime standoff with opposing naval or MLE forces this modification helps when there’s shouldering involved, so that the MSRV won’t suffer damages similar to that of USS Yorktown after being bumped by Soviet frigate Bezzavetny in Black Sea in 1988.And where necessary, the modification helps if the MSRV has to bump off some pesky hostile craft that’s helmed by violent extremists attempting to commit acts of maritime terrorism, such as the case of Philippine Navy against ASG in Sulu Sea last November.

A close up of the MSRV

So far of what we know about the OP none of the above capabilities will be fitted. They will have new engines, hulls and an indigenous CMS. Perhaps RMN will surprised us with the fenders, at least.

KD Pendekar
KD Pendekar, one of the four Handalan class boats at LIMA 19. The Handalan class FAC is among the boats to undergo the OP.

It is interesting also to note that Singapore has already planned to replace these newly minted MSRV with new ones while there is no firm plans for our own FAC fleet.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 1479 Articles
Shah Alam

19 Comments

  1. Unofficially it has been said that the singaporean LMV is too big for littoral operations (and for chasing smaller, faster and nimbler boats) , which is why they are retaining the fearless class vessels while planning for a big reboot of their LMV requirements.

    Which is why I have always said that the RMN want of a bigger and helicopter capable LMS Batch 2 does not fulfil the mission need of a LMS.

    If you want a bigger patrol ship than the LMS68, that means you dont need a LMS but actually need an OPV. In that case better buy more OPV 1800 for MMEA

    Which comes to my LMS batch 2 proposal to use damen FCS 5509 based hull design instead. Sea Shepherd uses one for patrolling the Antarctic waters. They paid USD12 million for the Ocean warrior, of which USD9.3 million of that total paid for by dutch lottery. The TLDM budget for the 4x LMS68 can actually buy us 20x Ocean Warriors (which is in my opinion much more better than trying to eke out more lives from our FACs). It has a top speed of more than 30 knots (33.4 knots from its official FB page), and 20,000 mile range (from official Sea Shepherd UK graphics). It has spent 93 days non stop to shadow japanese whaling vessels in Antarctica. It also actually sailed non-stop from amsterdam to australia, all with just its internal fuel tankage. A few reasons why I like this design for LMS batch 2.
    It could be a very versatile multi mission ship able to do

    – littoral superiority with the 30mm RCWS and twin TEU missile modules with 32x CM-501GA/CM-501XA missiles/loitering munition and 8x C-705

    – long range shadowing and escort of foreign naval and coast guard ships. able to keep up to most frigates with 30+ knots speed. This would mean no foreign naval ships would sail in malaysian EEZ without shadowing from TLDM.

    – logistics support to outer islands, with large fuel tankage and open deck able to carry 4x TEU containers

    – MCM support by carrying USV/UUVs

    – Hydrographic survey support

    – HADR for SAR and other activities. Fast speed and long range able to be anywhere in south east asian region for disaster relief within 24 hours.

    – Diver support with hyperbaric container modules installed.

    https://www.malaysiandefence.com/out-of-the-blue/#comment-443163
    https://www.malaysiandefence.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/LMSB1.jpg
    https://www.malaysiandefence.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/LMSB2.jpg
    https://www.malaysiandefence.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/LMSB3.jpg
    http://pbs.twimg.com/media/C10D6SyXcAARg1C.jpg

  2. … – “If you want a bigger patrol ship than the LMS68, that means you dont need a LMS but actually need an OPV”

    The RMN doesn’t want a bigger “patrol ship”; it wants a larger LMS for operational reasons. Just because it wants a larger platform doesn’t mean it can’t fulfil the role of a “LMS” and doesn’t mean it wants a “patrol ship”.

    You can have a larger LMS but still have it configured for littoral ops; the draught comes into play; not the physical dimensions/size.

    Just because it’s larger than the 4 Chinese built LMSs doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not suitable as a “LMS” (no fix rule what constitutes a “LMS” – up to the user) and is not suitable for littoral ops; which itself is dependent on what type of littoral environment.

    Not all type of littoral ops will be in areas where a shallow draught is essential or where a larger platform than the Chinese built LMSs will be a drawback.

  3. We can be the trendsetter, or we can just be a follower.

    As now singapore is trendsetting the need for a more nimbler littoral ships, we will be relegated to always just be a follower, when we could have built the best LMS boat for the requirement (for which we built an hyperexpensive patrol boat instead, and now wants an even bigger LMS). It is still not to late for us to do something, to be able to give TLDM the best LMS ship at the best possible cost.

    Also another reason we need something like used OSVs in TLDM and MMEA fleets, similar to singaporean need for MSRTs but for more open waters. For TLDM, multi purpose OSVs could be used for PASKAL support, MCM support, Salvage/Rescue support (towing broken down ships to safety or removing a sunken wreck from blocking a navigation lane), UAV support, Diving support, patrol.
    http://g7a6v6x7.rocketcdn.me/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/BSAOM-Champlain-French-Navy.jpg

  4. …. – “CM-501GA/CM-501XA” missiles/loitering munition and 8x C-705”

    Given that there is zero chance of us going for Chinese weapons on what will be a ship fitted with Western sensors/electronics; what do you feel would be the closest Western substitutes/equivalents?

  5. … – “ch more better than trying to eke out more lives from our FACs”

    Very true but unfortunately the pen pushing tight fisted bureaucrats don’t see it that way. For them the FACs can be used until they can’t move or float; literally.

    The RMN – as we all know – has been seeking to retire the fleet for years and has reached a point where it’s left with no option but to do whatever it takes to keep them operational.

    Like with the Laksamanas; the intention is to spend the bare minimum to keep them going and to enable some level of capability.

  6. Kinda fancy the Arialah class from UAE for lms batch 2 and subsequent batches. Think it was Damen 6711 design.

    Changes imo:
    – 76mm change to 57mm
    – omit the 11 ram missile launcher
    – smaller radar like thales ns50 or mw08

    Just my 2 cent.

  7. …. – “We can be the trendsetter, or we can just be a follower.”

    For me it’s a matter of profound indifference whether or not we’re a “trendsetter”. What does it do for us?

    Of far more importance for me are other issues : us getting stuff which meets our operational requirements (whether “trendsetting” or not); in the right quantities and in a timely manner and us progressively developing the various tertiary skills needed; amongst other things.

    …. – “and now wants an even bigger LMS”

    For good reason. A slightly bigger ship provides certain payoffs and doesn’t necessarily compromise its ability to operate in a littoral environment. Also when we talk about a larger ship; it’s not as if it’s going to be very much larger resulting in a cumbersome design totally unsuitable for littoral ops.

    …. – “As now singapore is trendsetting the need for a more nimbler littoral ships”

    The RSN’s operational requirements will differ from us. What it sees it’s “LMS” (itself a term depending on interpretation) will be somewhat dissimilar to the RMN.

    Also; how do you define “nimble”? Is there a strict rule of thumb? To be “nimble” certain trade offs have to be made and one can still have a slightly larger hull which is “nimble”.

  8. @ azlan

    ” what do you feel would be the closest Western substitutes/equivalents? ”

    For vertical launch MMW radar targeting capable would be the Hellfire mounted in the JQL launcher, or expensive option the JAGM itself.
    http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/38259/this-mini-vertical-launch-system-can-give-small-ships-and-trucks-huge-firepower

    But no small VL loitering missile option unless going Israeli

    Also no western low cost AShM comparable to the C-705.

    The advantage is small size, low cost and long range of these chinese missiles

    CM501GA has a 40km range. It also can be used as an anti-aircraft missile for slow moving targets like helicopters, UAVs and MPA aircrafts.

    CM501XA has a 20km range and loitering time of 30 minutes

    C-705 has a light weight of just 300kg but a range of around 140km, enough to disable a corvette sized target.

    To be installed on a flatbed TEU container like this
    http://www.morethanshipping.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/burak-header.jpg

    In the center of the container would be 16x VL launch tubes. At one end 4x launchers for C-705. 2x containers put side-by-side on the back deck of the FCS5509 would give the ship a total of 32x vertical launch CN501GA/XA missiles and 8x C-705 AShM missiles.

    My planned LMS batch 2 based on the FCS5509 would probably be the most lethal and the most capable littoral naval ship in asean waters below 60m in length.

  9. … – “advantage is small size, low cost and long range”

    The “low cost” factor only comes into play if there’s no integration/certification involved and that will only happen if Chinese sensors/electronics are selected.

    As for the range factor yes it’s always useful but not all operational circumstances will call for a long range shot and OTHT might not always be available in case shots are undertaken beyond range the range of the onboard radar.

    … – “ would probably be the most lethal and the most capable littoral naval ship in asean waters”

    At a platform level no doubt but I’m more concern about us being able to get all the key enablers to work with the LMS in order to fully exploit its capabilities.

    For one; we should strive to attain a higher level of UAS (a capability we’re belatedly acquiring) integration at various levels and we haven’t even started looking at way USVs can complement surface assets.

  10. Sg no have coast guard and no have long coast line or large sea. This maritime ships are for piracy. They will partner Sg marine police which called Sg police coast guard. The new purpose build ships will be bigger than lmvs.
    The Sg lms role is not normal patrol. In time of conflict they will partner the 6 new MRCV friget (1st ship ready in 2025) and 6 formidabel friget (undergoing mid life upgrade).

  11. @ nihd

    That would still be a slow lumbering vessel that is no different to an OPV. The 6711 would be the exact vessel if we somehow need an OPV specifically designed to patrol just the melacca straits.

  12. “while there is no firm plans for our own FAC fleet.”
    The plan WAS already there in the 15 to 5 Plan. The LMS class are supposed to replace all these legacy vessels. The plan IS there, but the will to carry thru is left wanting.

    Reply
    Firm plans meaning money already allocated and the design has been finalised. The 15 to 5 is a wish list really as no money has yet to be approved and allocated. Without those two the design cannot be finalised.

  13. Doesn’t mean they have “no firm plans”. TLDM has a plan and that is their plan and they were committed to the plan they hatched, as long there is will from Government to make it so. Just because the subsequent Governments failed them, doesn’t mean they have “no firm plans”.

    The plan had always been to replace the long serving FACs with LMS class in a timely manner, but in view of current situation that will have to readjust and the FACs have to be kept running further longer. Whether its still viable or not that is up to TLDM to decide, but until they officially announced either a recant of the 15-to-5 or come out with another plan, I would assume TLDM is all ahead forward with the current one. It is up to the sitting Government and so far the will is left wanting.

  14. @Marhalim and all. It seem Sg trying to bring together MRSF (under navy) and marine police under 1 comand i hear. But MRSF will still be navy and operate tough ramming enable opvs or light frigets (which will replace sentinel class..i think vanguard 105 opv) which will act as motherships to rhibs and usvs and tugboats. This ships may be arm with light or short or medium range missiels. The MRSF will be suport by the marine police. All this for constabulary^ but because MRSF under navy it ships r better arm. This also prevent duplication of work and safe money.

    RSN will just be the 2 JSSMs and 12 MRCV and formidable frigets and 8 lmvs corvette and 4 minesweeper and 4 to 6 Invincible subs.

  15. @ marhalim

    why do you censor this? am i not allowed to reply to a question azlan specifically asking me? i have been trying to post this for a few days already

    @ azlan

    how do you define nimble?

    have a quick speed (30 knots). able to accelerate quickly from slow speeds. able to quickly change directions. has a tight turning circle. can quickly stop from high speeds. able to be steered and driven fast through an island archipelago with lots of small islands and shallow reefs (around southern langkawi area or semporna for example).

    Anyway can you drive a 80m long ship at 30 knots from kuah to dayang bunting in between all those small islands while avoiding all the shallow reefs? ______________________________

    ” Also when we talk about a larger ship its not as if its going to be very much larger resulting in a cumbersome design totally unsuitable for littoral ops”

    The proposed RLMS design based on the TLDM requirements (the want for a bigger ship and helicopter capability) is almost as big as the OPV1800 and Meko 100.

    https://www.malaysiandefence.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/MAB_5667-1024×560.jpg

    Reply
    TBH I am getting passed off with this accusations that I am censoring your comments. If the comments go through the spam/bin filter, I will look at it but since it didn’t go through either one how could through it how could I censor it?Anyhow the last time I check I own this website and if I did or didn’t approve any comments, its my decision. This will be the last comment from you, I will approve. Thank you very much for your support

  16. … – “Anyway can you drive a 80m long ship at 30 knots from kuah to dayang bunting”

    In the first place how often would you need to and would one specifically incorporate certain features or tech specs to a design merely on the off chance it might be called to operate in a specific operational setting; one of various types?

    … – “while avoiding all the shallow reefs? ”

    It’s the draught which is the determining factor.

    As you’re fully aware there is no fixed rule as to what constitutes a “littoral ship” – yes it’s one designed for ops in a “littoral” setting (like the LCS and LMS) but it really depends on what the user sees his requirements are.

    “Littoral” merely means “close to the shore” – one can have deep littorals. Granted most of our waters are shallow but still deep enough in most places for a ship with a reasonably medium draught to operate. Not all littorals are shallow to the extent that reefs/corals are an issue.

    As for “nimble”; it’s good but one can have a 5,000 tonne frigate which is “nimble”; which can go from a cruising speed of 18 knots to a maximum speed of say 30 knots in ‘x’ minutes. It can also make rapid, aggressive turns: almost as sharp and fast as a ship 1/3 its displacement.
    Ultimately (as you know) it’s all on trade offs; determining what we need more of and the compromises.

    The way I look at it; if indeed the RMN has seriously set its sights on a LMS the size of a Kedah (as you mentioned) then logic would dictate it has good reasons for this and is willing to incur wherever penalties that come with it. It’s also a fact that just because a ship is of a certain displacement/size/length doesn’t automatically mean it’s unsuitable for littoral ops.

  17. To some of us its norhing new,the fearless class with waterjet proplsion speed exceed 30 knots has been chasing pirates all this while,but since RSN is creating a new sqd,it is easilly being absorbed because they need small n fast ship but not RHIB or speed boats which is vulnerable to even pirates tongkang…

  18. Let’s get ships that work, that’s reliable and carry the right weapons for the job they are supposed to do. I don’t have problems with where they’re built, so long as we have the capacity to maintain, repair and upgrade them in the coming years. Not much else we can do except exhort, persuade and ensure the Minister and his officials are doing their job.

  19. Taib -“right weapons for the job they are supposed to do. I don’t have problems with where they’re built, so long as we have the capacity to maintain”

    The RMN has a good idea as to what it needs and is cognisant of the fact that they need something which they can afford to sustain and something which has as much growth potential and commonality as possible – the danger is the politicians and bureaucrats – again – buggering things.

    – “the Minister and his officials are doing their job.”

    I have no doubt they want to do their job; the question is whether they really are able to; how the armed services and politicians (including the Defence Minister) are are on the same page and whether the cash we allocate is put to optimum use – everything depends on the government and overall policy; which in total shambles, lacks any long term strategic direction and self defeating.

    I have no idea when’s a likely timeframe but lets see how the LCAs and follow on LMSs are handled. Will they be driven by the need to ensure the end user gets the required capability or will national interests take precedence? We also have the unresolved LCS issue.

    The problem with “ensuring” the politicians indeed do their job : not as if the opposition is going to ask the right questions or the general public (they have other worries and even in the best of time couldn’t be bothered); who are indifferent; same goes with the press.

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