Some Things Never Change

A model of the Damen Sigma 92 meter proposed by Gading Marine for the LMS Batch 2 programme. Malaysian Defence picture.

SHAH ALAM: The town of Lumut and the parliamentary constituency is the location of the RMN main naval base which bears the same name. It used to be known as RMN fleet headquarters until the service decided to split its fleet into two, the Western and Eastern commands.

As it housed the largest number of its fighting vessels, when the Lumut naval base was built in the early 80s, they also decided to build a dockyard to service the vessels. In 1999, the naval dockyard was taken over by Penang Shipbuilding Corporation Bhd under a privatisation programme. This was in concert with the company getting the contract to build the Kedah class. The rest is history of course which resulted in the shipyard being called Boustead Naval Shipyard.

Another shipyard located further away from Lumut town is Grade One Marine Shipyard Sdn Bhd (GOMS). Privately owned the shipyard has also gotten work from the RMN from refits to the completion of the two Samudera class training ships. It also built various vessels for the private sector from barges to offshore support vessels.

A recent aerial picture of Grade Marine Shipyard. Grade One Marine Shipyard picture.

The third shipyard is an upstart, Gading Marine Sdn Bhd, located near GOMS, at Teluk Acheh in Sitiawan. It is the builder of the RMN FCBs and one of the companies which had offered to take part in LMS 2 Batch project.

There are other shipyards in the vicinity of the three mentioned above but most of them are mostly involved in supporting the private sector.

So, it is not surprising to see the current Lumut MP Nordin Mohd Ismail asking why the government is not awarding the LMS Batch 2 project to local companies. His written question published by the Dewan Rakyat on November 8 is below.

KOMANDER NORDIN BIN AHMAD ISMAIL TLDM (BERSARA) [LUMUT] minta MENTERI PERTAHANAN menyatakan rasional usaha pembangunan keupayaan industri pertahanan negara selama ini oleh pihak Kementerian Pertahanan apabila Kerajaan mengumumkan untuk memperolehi Kapal Littoral Mission Ship (LMS) Batch 2 daripada Negara Turkiye sedangkan syarikat pembinaan kapal tempatan mampu untuk
membina kapal jenis ini di dalam negara

And the answer from the Defence Minister:

YB DATO’ SERI UTAMA MOHAMAD BIN HAJI HASANMENTERI PERTAHANAN
Tuan Yang di-Pertua,
1. YAB Perdana Menteri semasa pembentangan Kajian Separuh Penggal, Rancangan Malaysia Ke-12 di Dewan yang mulia ini pada 11 September 2023 yang lalu telah menetapkan supaya Kementerian
Pertahanan dapat merombak sistem perolehan bagi memastikan pihak berkepakaran daripada Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (ATM) dapat menentukan sendiri spesifikasi aset atau peralatan yang diperlukan bagi mengelakkan ketirisan.
2. Oleh itu, satu pendekatan baru telah dibuat oleh Kementerian Pertahanan dengan mengenal pasti beberapa perolehan aset strategik agar dapat dilaksanakan menerusi pendekatan Government to
Government (G-to-G) untuk mengoptimumkan kepakaran yang dimiliki pihak pembuat yang telah terbukti melalui rekabentuk dan tempoh masa pembinaan yang lebih singkat selain bagi mengelakkan isu orang tengah.
3. Melalui pendekatan ini, industri pertahanan tempatan juga turut menerima manfaat secara tidak langsung yang mana setiap perolehan yang bernilai tinggi perlu menyediakan Program Kolaborasi Industri atau Industrial Collaboration Program (ICP) melalui transfer of know how atau transfer of technology di antara kedua-dua negara. Di samping itu, pendekatan ini juga akan memastikan perolehan aset tersebut dipantau oleh Kerajaan.

It must be noted Nordin retired from RMN with the rank of Commander. I do not have his biodata, but it is likely he himself is aware of the issues with Kedah and Samudera classes and the LCS.

— Malaysian Defence

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21 Comments

  1. No more please…our local shipyard already prove that they can’t build large warship. Just let them stick to build smaller vessels

  2. Haiqal – “…our local shipyard already prove that they can’t build large warship”

    Absolute bollocks. With a yard being put through a learning curve; a realistic schedule; with the proper mechanisms and oversight in place and with no politicians and local companies meddling; there’s nothing to say that a local yard can’t deliver on schedule and within budget.

    You also have to note that in the case of the LCS; BNS is not the sole entity whose at fault. The whole system failed.

  3. It’s sad ex-Navy officers take positions like this in parliament even if for political purposes, more so since the 2 key man in the LCS project are ex-Navy officers. Local shipyards have poor record building big ships. LCS is one, Kedah is the first. The MMEA OPV is the other one. No need to be a cheerleader about it and trying to play it safe. It’s bad then it’s bad. Can blame the system, blame the politicians, blame the lack of controls, blame the people, the fact remains the local shipyards failed to deliver, and it has cost RMN. Less we forget, BNS (from the days of PSC-ND) had more than 20+ years to learn building complex ships. Also, the shipbuilding pipeline is too limited to support a local industry, meaning there is no learning possible – BNS (and its predecessor PSC-ND) only had contract to build 12 warships in its existence. In fact, come 2030, after 30 years, if we’re lucky the shipyard would still only have built 11 ships. In contrast ST Engineering had more than 40 ships over 28 years and have confirmed 6 new ships out to 2030. Learning is one thing, tolerating “still learning” after 20 plus years is not good enough. Not recognising learning is not possible because of limited pipeline is another. Local shipyards have proven capable of building certain type of ships because of good pipeline, so good for them that they win those contract – they can learn over time to build bigger ships. But for now, no need to be a cheerleader for local shipyards pitching to win big ships for RMN and MMEA.

  4. ToT apa lagi???

    Malaysian shipyards know how to build ships.

    One off contract no need to buy total design rights.

    Also GtoG without involving loval shipyards? How?

    BNS has no capacity as it needs to complete the Gowinds. So how do you select which other shipyard to get this ToT??

    I will repeat my stand. If Gowinds is what TLDM needs, then complete all 6 Gowinds. LMS Batch 2 cannot possibly become LCS stopgap as they cannot be completed before the 1st LCS is complete.

    Rather than having a corvette with short range, i would prefer a smaller ship heavily armed with missiles (distributed lethality) that has the speed, range and endurance to sail with the LCS GOWINDs, becoming their loyal wingmans. That is what my proposed LMS-X should be.

  5. Our local shipyards are suck at building warships. LCS and NGPV are prime examples this local shipyard must not be awarded any contract in the future. They will just screwed it over. Better to give it to foreign shipyard like the Japanese, Korea, or Turkiye. Local shipayard only good for maintenance. They can eat grass if they can’t cope with it.

  6. Azlan- Absolute bollocks. With a yard being put through a learning curve; a realistic schedule; with the proper mechanisms and oversight in place and with no politicians and local companies meddling; there’s nothing to say that a local yard can’t deliver on schedule and within budget.

    Bold of you they learn anything from this debacle. They don’t even learn from the first NGPV debacle. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me thrice? Not gonna happen.

  7. I think the Lumut MP made the statement only from a political point of view (ie keeping/creating jobs for his constituants), not from an ex-navy officer point of view (ie on time, on budget and on spec, or what customer/end user needs).

    Just like Azlan said, to build a ship on time, on budget and on spec, a more improved/proper system should be implemented. But for the short term (now), better don’t give corvette sized and above projects to local shipyards to build.

    For example, built the first 3 LMS batch 2 in foreign shipyards while sending some locals there for training and gaining experience (much like with the Kedahs), then build the ship locally 1 at a time or built 1 locally 1st before building multiple locally in parallel (learning from mistakes done with LCS). Though this still doesnt guerantee anything

  8. Akmal – “They don’t even learn from the first NGPV debacle. .”

    This may be news to you but BNS and the Naval Dockyard ate different entities; that the issues in both programmes were different and that problems which arised aren’t solely related to the yard but also the government and the very flawed poltibsly driven policy that is so entrenched.

    Akmal – “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me thrice? Not gonna happen”

    Spare me the cliche.

  9. Kel “ST Engineering had more than 40 ships over 28 years and have confirmed 6 new ships out to 2030”

    ST engineering get support from PAP & get continuous shipbuilding programme going on allowing them to take advantage of economics of scale & talented experience workers.

    while we (like Oz) build some then let the shipyards inactive for years and lose workers & talent as we go shopping overseas then restarted again locally & the shipyards had to go through yet another learning curve again.

  10. Its best safe to built those ships abroad (in this case Turkiye for the LMSII), then for MRO / Repair / Refit to be done by local shipyards through ToT.

  11. Lord,

    Yes. If the intention is to ensure the RMN gets the capability it needs and the taxpayers their cash’s worth. Or at least get the lead ship constructed abroad; the local yard going through a learning curve. At the same time apolitical or non partisan oversight being placed.

    Don’t tell that to “kel” however as he’ll subject you to a pedantic tome presented in a large lump and go off grid about “cheerleaders” and other nonsensical things.

  12. … – “I will repeat my stand. If Gowinds is what TLDM needs, then complete all 6 Gowinds. LMS Batch 2 cannot possibly become LCS stopgap as they cannot be completed before the 1st LCS is complete.”

    I will “repeat” : the LMS is and was never a “stopgap” for anything. There is a greater sense of urgency in getting them due to concerns the number of LCSs would be scaled back or have reduced specs but they were not a “stopgap”.

    .. – “Rather than having a corvette with short range”

    Unless we intend on conducting extended patrols off the Marianas or to escort ships to Tahiti; “range” is not an issue. If it was then the LMS won’t be deployed but a LCS.

    The LCA has limited range compared to a MRCA but nobody l’s claiming its an issue.

    … -“what my proposed LMS-X should be”

    All praise for your “proposed LMS-X; I’ll pat you on the back if I could and blow your trumpet as well as sing songs of praise but as it stands the reality is that the RMN’s future force structure will comprise LCSs and LMSs; both complementing each other and at times one fulfilling certain roles not requiring something else; similar to the RMAF’s plan to have MRCAs and LCAs.

    You would prefer many things; so would I. In a perfect world we won’t have LCAs but alas we don’t live in a perfect world and we can’t afford an all MRCA combat fleet; neither can the RMN a combat fleet comprised solely of frigates. Your “LMS-X” is sound but it’s best you contact the RMN HQ directly or some other entity to acquaint them.

  13. Kel – “It’s sad ex-Navy officers take positions like this in parliament even if for political purposes”

    No it’s not “sad” as he’s a politician. You do understand what politicians do don’t you or are are under the impression that just because one’s ex military; one has to be a different breed of politician?

    Kel – “Learning is one thing, tolerating “still learning” after 20 plus years is not good enough”

    Blanket comparisons is also “not good enough”. How many ships did the Naval Dockyard construct? How long was the gap between the NGOPV programme being completed and the LCS one commencing? Prior to the LCS how many ships did NNS construct? Compare that to ST Engineering before indulging in blanket statements.

    When you mention “learning” are you aware that it also applies to the government? The government which introduced the very system in place which led to this colossal cockup.

    Kel – “No need to be a cheerleader about it and trying to play it safe. It’s bad then it’s bad. Can blame the system, blame the politicians, blame the lack of controls, blame the people, the fact remains the local shipyards failed to deliver”

    Preaching/ranting to yourself? You’ve made the transcendence into a cheerleader or merely lost a plot? As for playing it “safe” – a Durex moment?

    Obfuscate pedantically all you want but yes it was a combination of factors; a flawed policy; ambitious goals which were not in line with ability; lack of oversight and corrective mechanisms; etc, etc.

    Kel – “ no need to be a cheerleader for local shipyards pitching to win big ships for RMN and MMEA”

    No idea but there is a need for paragraphs which you learnt – or not – in primary school, rather than presenting things in a lump; turd.

  14. How many warships have Malaysia ordered for RMN since 2000? How many warships did RMN get since 2000? How many warships BNS could have build over the same period? After the Kedah class and until LCS today, what other complex warships contract for RMN could BNS have bidded for? LMS1. Now compare that with Singapore. RSN has a rolling shipbuilding program based on multi-decade fleet planning. STE know ships will be replaced every 30 years and so the shipyard has a pipeline to learn from. The government of Singapore also designated 1 national champion for naval shipbuilding unlike Malaysia with affirmative action and wealth redistribution policies spreading contracts over multiple companies, some with no track record. There is just no pipeline to support a local industry for big warships, nothing to do with go foreign or local. Less we forget, BNS bought the Gowind 3100 design, a foreign design, a ship Naval Group doesnt even offer, and BNS claimed they could design the ship and build all 6 locally. If attempting to support local shipbuilding despite the cost to RMN, is due to the need to support affirmative action policies, then just admit I guess. For me, local industry is currently only good for smaller ships and those have decent pipeline to support the industry long term. But for bigger and more complex ships, dont put RMN’s well being at risk just to support affirmative action policies.

  15. It’s impressive how many people still defending this corrupt and full indebt company when they deserve to go bankrupt. If they can’t learn from their past mistake, then they don’t deserve to make anything at all.

  16. The MP is a career man so what to expect? When he was a Navy man he will sound out for the benefit of the Navy but now he is a politician and elected MP so he is working for the benefit of his party & his constituents. Like if I work in Company A I will promote company A but if I jump to competitor B I will promo Company B and hentam Company A.

  17. As for his statement, he is not wrong to state that we have the capability to build large warships but it has to be managed well, have a realistic expectation, & most importantly have sufficient budget, that includes any ancillaries ie team trip basing in overseas, upgrading of facilities, design payments, integration costs, etc, all which had doomed the LCS.

  18. Transfer of technology sounds good & catchy but ever since the gov offsets them in military procurement, there’s nothing good came out of it. On the contrary it created more problems for both the industry & end users. Okay, ToT must be done realistically, with proper direction of wherr we want to be in the next 10 years in the shipbuilding industry. But there is a lot of GREY AREA & LOOPHOLES where the culpris are operating & along the way managed to siphoned a good chunk of the military budget for themselves. No we cannot go back to where we were with the kedahs, lekius & lcs. It is UNSUSTAINABLE both commercially & politically. Our neighbors are more well equipped than us today & if we don’t make amends we will be left far behind. These so called local compnies with their subpar construction quality & mismanagement at every level we don’t owe them anything. Enough of all this mess please

  19. Akmal – ”It’s impressive how many people still defending this corrupt ”

    It’s ”impressive” how some have a lot to say but don’t really understand what went wrong and have no intention of doing so. I’ll keep it as simple as possible for your benefit: BNS is not solely to blame; the shite that occurred was made possible by the very system we have; a system which failed and a system which like various other things in this country has gone ratshit. It’s not about ”defending” anything but stating facts as they stand. You are capable of making a distinction between facts, hyperbole and assumptions are you not?

    Qamarul – ”Transfer of technology sounds good & catchy but ever since the gov offsets them in military procurement, there’s nothing good came out of it. ”

    On rare occasions something ”good came out of it”; at the top of my head the Hawk offsets which SME gained but for the rest? Th Hornet, PT-91, A400M, Fulcrum, etc, etc, offsets? Any actual tangible benefits in the long run?

    Qamarul – ”Enough of all this mess please”

    Easier said than done but where are the deep rooted fundamental changes needed to undo years of damage; in line with a system that has rarely prioritised the end user and taxpayer but local interests ….

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