22 Oktober 2009
Korea's Dokdo class : length 188 m, max displacement 18.000 ton (photo : Military Today)
THE government needs to meet the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) requirements when deciding which vessel to get to upgrade the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) transport fleet following the fire that gutted KD Sri Inderapura.
Defence analyst Dzirhan Mahathir, in an email to Malay Mail, said: “At the end of the day, the decision should first be with the MAF as to the best and most suitable design that meets its needs in the appropriate time frame along with the other secondary candidates. The government has then to decide which of those listed fit within its financial considerations”.
He was asked to comment on which vessels would best fulfill the Multi-Purpose Support Ship (MPSS) requirements of the RMN.
He added: “It depends on the design and what equipment goes on the ship. If we take the lower end, Indonesia’s Makassar class that costs about US$19.9 million (around RM70 million) a ship, we will be looking at that as a minimum figure for one ship.”
He added two ships is always better for operational reasons, allowing the navy to have another ship available if one breaks down or is deployed elsewhere.
On the fate of the two other transport ships in the Royal Malaysia Navy, Dzirhan said: “Any decision on KD Mahawangsa and KD Inderasakti will actually depend on the state of the ships and whether RMN will benefit from still having them in service or to replace them with new ships.”
The Malay Mail on Tuesday reported that the government may have to spend some RM3 billion if it decided to procure the South Korean-made Dokdo-class amphibious transport ship to fulfill the (MPSS) requirements of the MAF.
The Dokdo-class reportedly is the MAF’s favourite candidate to fulfill the MPSS requirement. MAF had stated previously that it needs three MPSS to meet its strategic plans.
Indonesia's Makassar class : length 122 m, max displacement : 7.300 ton (photo : Kaskus Militer)
In 2007, it was announced that the government had in principle agreed to fund at least one MPSS in the Ninth Malaysian Plan but the procurement decision was deferred last year due to the economic crisis.
The Indonesian Navy operates four Makassar-class amphibious ships, designated as Landing Platform Docks in military parlance.
The ships, derived from a commercial ferry design, were designed by Daesun Shipbuilding and Engineering Co of South Korea and based on the earlier Tanjung Dalpele class.
The first two units were built in Busan, South Korea and the remaining two at Indonesia’s PT PAL shipyard in Surabaya.
The third and fourth units have been modified to act as flagships with command and control systems, 100mm gun and air defence systems. Dzirhan said the MAF needed transport ships for several reasons.
“There are a number of military equipment in the MAF that cannot be transported by military aircraft and need to be transported by sea in a military vessel, along with the fact that the military equipment may have to be unloaded in areas other than a port, which rules out using a civilian ship.
“An MPSS is a tremendous asset for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations as its large personnel and cargo capacity allows it to bring relief supplies and personnel in large numbers.”
In military operations, he added, the ship can bring men and materials in large numbers.
“Also, Malaysia is separated into two distinct parts and therefore needs to have substantial military sea-lift capability to move men and material between East and West Malaysia in an emergency.”
MAF had previously stated that it needed the MPSS not only for military operations but also for humanitarian aid and international peacekeeping duties.
On whether Malaysia should procure the MPSS from overseas or build it locally, Dzirhan said: “What matters is whether the design meets the requirements of the RMN and whether building locally is cheaper.”