12 Februari 2010

Further Delay in RMN Submarine Tropical Trials

12 Februari 2010

KD Tunku Abdul Rahman (photo : Militaryphotos)

Negotiations Over Cost Between Government and Boustead DCNS Continues

KUALA LUMPUR: KD Tunku Abdul Rahman tropical water trials has been delayed again until next week after another defect was discovered on Jan 17.

Royal Malaysian Navy chief Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar when confirming this afternoon told reporters that the engineeers from Bousted DCNS Naval Corp Sdn Bhd had traced the defect to the high pressure air blowing system inside the submarine's ballast tank. The ballast tanks which can be filled with water or air are used to control when a submarine surface or submerge.

He said the defect was found during routine checks and the defective part had been replaced and work was underway to certify that every thing was working well.

"We will conduct the tropical water trials on Feb 18 where the submarine will be diving. Our submariners are also anxious to go back underwater," he told reporters after attending a ceremony to present the credentials for the National Service Training Council at the Defence Ministry yesterday.

Abdul Aziz said although the problem was not common it was not a major fault.
“It’s a teething problem, not major but we still needed to be careful.” he added.
He said the first defect was detected in the submarine’s Forward Sea Water Cooling System, on Dec 17.

Meanwhile, as KD Tunku Abdul Rahman prepared to conduct its delayed Tropical Water Trials, another "battle" is going on shore.

The "battle" is the extended negotiations with Bouestead DCNS Naval Corp Sdn Bhd for the multi-year integrated service and support for the Perdana-Menteri-class submarines. And the negotiations carried on as DCNS scrambled to fix the tehnical defect on KD Tunku Abdul Rahman which prevented it to dive.

The RMN procured two submarines, KD Tunku Abdul Rahman and KD Tun Abdul Razak, for some RM3.4 billion in 2002 from a partnership of French and Spanish shipbuilders, DCNS and Navantia.

On Oct 22 last year, Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad had told Parliament that the maintenance cost for the two submarines, including spare parts, would be about RM270 million a year.

The negotiations on the service agreement, The Malay Mail was informed, had reached an impasse. Boustead DCNS is a joint-venture between BHIC Defence Technologies Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of public-listed Boustead Heavy Industries Corp Bhd, and France-based DCNS S.A.

In a statement to Bursa Malaysia, last June, Boustead Heavy Industries had said the government had expressed intent to award a contract worth RM600 million to its joint-venture unit for in-service support for the RMN's Scorpene submarines.

It told Bursa Malaysia that the the government, in its letter of intent (LOI) dated June 3, stated its intention to have a contract with Boustead DCNS.

However, The Malay Mail was informed that despite the LOI, the government was unhappy with the sum Boustead DCNS wanted and asked for the contract price to be lowered.

It was hoped the negotiations would have been finalised for a contract to be signed at Lima 2009 in Langkawi last December. However it has dragged on, a local defence industry source said. There was also talk the contract could be signed during the Defence Services Asia (DSA) exhibition in April, but nothing has been confirmed.

"As the warranty for the KD Tunku Abdul Rahman ends in May, our hope is that the negotiations will be finalised soon so that there will no be problem in supporting the submarine and the KD Tun Abdul Razak when it arrives in the middle of the year," the source said.

The Malay Mail reported yesterday that the country's sole submarine, KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, suffered a technical defect that prevented it from diving for three months.

The problem was fixed last week. The defect forced the RM1 billion plus French-built Scorpene submarine to delay tropical water trials that were scheduled to be completed by the end of January.

As a result, builder DCNS SA extended the warranty for the submarine, which was supposed to expire on Jan 25, until May so the KD Tunku Abdul Rahman could complete its trials — the first step to obtaining its Initial Operational Capability (IOC).

RMN chief Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar had said the trials started this week. The submarine was commissioned early last year after undergoing two years of trials in France.

It is expected to complete all trials by May and be cleared for operations in the same month. It is also expected to conduct the live firing of its SM39 Exocet anti-ship missile in May.


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