Singing to An Ocean

Ships at anchor at LIMA 17

SHAH ALAM: Singing to An Ocean. It has been four weeks after LIMA 17 and I guess it’s the time to post some photographs of the maritime segment. From the pictures below one can surmise that one can design a purposeful, a good looking ship even under a tight budget.

However, sometimes requirements, real or otherwise, turns a ship, arguably, into an ugly duckling. On certain ships, it just take an odd looking turret or radar mast to ruin the aesthetics.

Gagah Samudera, the training ship which was design by Daewoo Shipbuilding of Korea. She looked like the ex Brunei frigates

I am not a ship designer but if one were to give the Most Awkward Looking Ship Award at LIMA 17 that honour must belong to KM Bagan Datok of the MMEA. Whether or not KM Bagan Datok will turn out to be a purposeful design or not, will only be known in the near future.

KM Bagan Datok

Her extra tall design – the main reason it look awkward- must have come from the manning requirements set by MMEA for the NGPC. That manning requirement is also adopted for the OPV to be build by THHE Destini Sdn Bhd though this time around it was the helicopter hangar that was deleted from the Damen 1800 OPV design instead of adding an extra deck to the hull.

Vietnam Navy frigate Dinh Tien Hoang. She is the first of four Gepard class frigate of Vietnam Navy.

Even the older KM Pekan, an ex Japanese Coast Guard OPV, looked much better than her younger fleet mate.

KM Pekan

If her main superstructure were updated to a more modern design, KM Pekan would have left Bagan Datok at the docks. As it is she still looked very elegant, comparable to the sleek design of KD Jebat and Gagah Samudera.

KD Jebat

As for the KRI Banjarmasin, she is very similar looking to the Damen LPD Enforcer 1000 which the Dutch shipyard is looking to offer for the RMN MRSS requirement. Banjarmasin which was built at PT PAL shipyard in Surabaya looked nothing at all like her two Makassar class LPD. Perhaps Daesun of South Korea was inspired by the Enforcer LPD design which have been available for the last decade or so?

KRI Banjarmasin

A more modern design, Bangladesh Navy BNS Prottoy, looked pretty contemporary when compared to other newer ships like the Vietnamese Gepard class frigate (above). Their  sleek silhouette however were undone by the ancient looking 76mm gun turrets.

BNS Prottoy

That said even the 76mm Strales guns on the Italian Navy frigate ITS Carabiniere looked pretty ugly.

ITS Carabiniere

In fact, these ships were outclassed in the looks department by the Indian Navy corvette, INS Kora with its stealthy Oto Melara 76mm gun on its A mounting though admittedly the ship looked more dated than the other ships. This is understandable as the Kora was designed in the late 1990s.

INS Kora

If a sleek modern stealth design matters, RSN frigate RSS Tenacious will take the first prize with Japanese Navy JS Teruzuki Aegis destroyer taking up the second spot.

RSS Tenacious
JS Teruzuki

As beauty is in the eye of beholder you might have your own favourite design. Your choice is a good as mine. Does a good looking ship does better in a battle? Not really but it helps when you have rows of grey hulls to look at an exhibition.

KM Perwira
INS Kora
KM Bagan Datok
KD Kasturi
KM Pekan
KD Jebat
KRI Banjarmasin
BNS Prottoy
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— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2201 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. why not ITS Carabiniere but JS Teruzuki?

    Carabiniere comes behind Teruzuki due to the ugly Strales turrets

  2. On the BNS Prottoy

    It is based on the latest chineese type 56 corvette, with 76mm main gun, 2x 30mm ciws, fl-3000n anti aircraft missiles and c-802 anti ship missiles. The only missing items is the anti submarine suites. And the cost? Usd110 million.

  3. Marhalim, in your opinion do you think the main gun of KM Bagan Datok is a little bit overkill? The ship is small and suppose to patrol the shore from smuggler and illegal activity, not a military operation. The Protector RWS IMO is a better choise than the bigger 30mm gun. Also i think the Bagan Datok won the award of cutest ship in LIMA Exhibition.

  4. RSN Formidable-class is my top pick in the look department for current naval vessels, indeed it will not looked out-of-place if placed side by side RMN Gowind LCS (when it is commissioned), even though it have been in service with RSN for almost a decade…

  5. By the way, is Gagah Samudera part of 15 to 5 plan? It designs consider upto standard modern battle ship. I wonder LMS is it as tall as she? If we choose this as LMS, can it do all the mission?

    The training ships are for training so it is not part of the 15 to 5 plan. The first four LMS is supposed to be patrollers while the rest, if funded are supposed to be good enough for combat against similar or slightly bigger type ships just like FACs were supposed to tangle with bigger ships as well.

  6. Why cant the RMN just use the Gagah Samudera design as their LMS? Its dirt cheap, looks nice and got room for future modification. Why must they choose a new and unfimiliar design?

    If the two training ships had been completed on time, it was likely that they might have built more ships from the same design but that is water under the bridge

  7. I find it strange that the Kora has the rear part of her hull in black as it’s normally done on ships that have no funnels.


    I’ve always been of the opinion that if an MMEA ship faces a situation where its 20/30mm is not sufficient then it shouldn’t be there in the first place and an RMN ship should instead be there.
    Granted the MMEA performs constabulary type duties and doesn’t need heavily armed ships but a 30mm auto cannon on the Bagan Datok does provide several advantages over a 12.7mm, such as range and more ”stopping” and penetrating power in case there’s danger of being rammed or to stop a fleeing ship.

    If anything I think the Gagah Samudera is under armed. At minimum she should have 57mm mount.

    And without a shipyard to champion upgrades, I guess Gagah and Teguh will have to bear with the 30mm guns

  8. Guess the Japanese duck takes the second spot eh? Well I don’t really that mind.

  9. Marhalim.

    If im not mistaken the gagah samudera saga was the fault of NGV Tech not the oem. The same as the ngpv program. Back then it was PSCND. Why cant we adopt a proven and in use design but just built them in a different yard. Why must the RMN go looking for a brand new design every time theres a problem made by our local shipyard.

    The OEM was not at fault but they seemed to think that they could dictate terms to the navy even after NGV Tech went belly up which was fatal. Re read my story on the plan to build six boats at a Pekan yard.

  10. Why are some of the Kedah-Class opv rear painted black (pendant no. 172, 173, 174, 175), are they all having capability to tow array sonar or just to cover the black diesel smoke mark on the aft of the ship? My ignorance..

  11. fird,

    You answered your own question. The same was done on the PCs and the FACs.

    When the 375mms on the Kasturis were fired there was also a lot of soot :]

  12. ……….,

    What we’ve had for almost 3 decades, a hull mounted sonar and torps, was the ”minimum” capability expected then. The Kasturis were pretty basic and had a not quite effective rocket launcher but came with a decent sonar and that capability was considered adequate for our requirements then. Having a towed array and an ASW configured helo [what we’ve done] is the next step and for a navy with our budget is considered more than sufficient – as such that is the ”minimum” capability a small, financially strapped , peacetime, navy should have.

    MPAs configured for ASW are nice to have but that extra capability comes at a huge cost [procurement, upkeep and training] – it’s a matter of deciding on what to focus on first. Passive sea bed mounted sonars are also nice to have but again, it’a a question on what to focus on first. For every compelling reason why we should focus on ASW, someone else can also make a very compelling case on why we should focus on MCM – this is the main peace time problem everyone faces; deciding on what to prioritise
    first with a limited budget and varying threats/challenges.

    If we do get such sonars ideally it’ll be linked to FOC in Lumut and not just Sepanggar [assuming its fixed off the Sabah coast]. That will cost extra. Many years later the Maritime Institute’s coastal radars [from Raytheon Canada] are still not linked to the RMN; neither are the MMEA’s coastal radars [OEM unknown] due to cost. The underwater surveillance system going to Sepanggar will have the ability to detect subs, mini subs, UUVs and divers. Perhaps the experience in having the underwater surveillance system at Sepanggar will make a stronger case in the future for what you proposed.

    The RMAF’s requirement is not just on ”cool” toys; it’s also based on what the government feels should be the priority. If the RMAF were to announce that it could put off acquiring MCAs until 2025 and wants instead to get a dozen primary radars and gap fillers and set up 3-4 new SOCs as well as 12 LIFTs; the government probably wouldn’t agree. The RMAF has not been getting the attention the RMN has got; because the government feels that priority should be the navy [makes sense given that most of our non state threats comes from the maritime domain]. If the government had felt that air power should be a priority; we’d be discussing the imminent deliveries of MRCAs and debating on what a yet to be ordered and long delayed LCS should be armed with.

  13. fird – RMN PVs stern painted black to mask diesel smoke stains.

    Zee Waifu – there was no gun fitted to the KM BAGAN DATOK. I think you are looking at the UAV launcher that is installed forward of the bridge. The gun had not been installed by Destini when the ship went to LIMA. It has now been installed and undergoing firing trials as we speak….

  14. Well the asian seas will be merrier with additional ex-Hamilton class cutters.

    Latest is 1 to be transferred to Vietnam.

    Currently 2 is in service in Bangladesh, and 3 in the Philippines.

  15. There is chatter that vietnam is going to receive used ex korean pohang-class asw corvettes.

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