LUMUT, Malaysia --- The government would not compromise on Malaysia’s security, despite the economic slowdown said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
He said this can be seen from the unveiling of the first second generation Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) here.
Hishammuddin said five more LCS’ in currently in the pipeline will be delivered to the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) by 2023.
"With the LCS vessels, I hope the RMN's ability to protect the country's sovereignty will be greatly boosted, especially when it comes to facing the Islamic State threats.
He adds that apart from the home built LCS, the nation’s security is expected to be further boosted by the arrival of Littoral Mission Ships (LMS) from China.
"RMN is expected to receive four Littoral Mission Ships in stages, with two of these vessels currently being built in China, while the remaining will be built in the country," said Hishammuddin.
He adds that as of July 8, the RMN had dispatched a team of 11 officers from the navy, together with nine personnel from the BNS to Wuhan, China.
He adds that the navy and BNS personnel will spend 37 months to monitor the ship-building process at Wuchang Shipyard.
“I also learnt that they are currently on Basic Design Review stage. This is to ensure that the ships' specifications followed our needs and requests.
"Based on the progress, I believe, we will be receiving the first LMS vessel by October 2019," he said.
Hishammuddin said this at a press conference after the naming and launch of Malaysia’s first LCS at the Boustead Naval Shipyard at the RMN base here today.
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Malaysia’s first home built LCS has been named KD Maharaja Lela, in honour of the late Perak Chieftain and British resistance leader, Datuk Maharaja Lela.
The first of its kind ship under the Maharaja Lela Class was constructed at the Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BN Shipyard), a subsidiary of Boustead Holdings Berhad and an associate company of Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation Bhd (BHIC).
The LCS took one and half years to complete at the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) base here, after it’s keel was laid down in March of last year.
Raja Permaisuri of Perak Tuanku Zara Salim launched the LCS, witnessed by Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah.
Meanwhile, BHIC Executive Deputy chairman and managing director Datuk Seri Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor described the completion of the first LCS on schedule as being a momentous occasion as it was launched less than one and a half year since its keel-laying ceremony held last year.
"The achievement is a testament to the dedication, commitment and hard work of the staff of BHIC and BN Shipyard and the navy, proving that Malaysians can undertake a project of such complexity and magnitude.
"The LCS entering the water for the first time is a highly significant moment in shipbuilding. We have gone through a long, complex and challenging journey to reach this point," he added.
Ramli said BNS was privileged with the opportunity given by the government to build the LCS and contribute towards enhancing the country's maritime defence.
“As we build the rest of the vessels, we will continue to maintain our pace, while upholding our commitment to provide outstanding service in pursuit of our shared goal to see Malaysia achieve self-resilience in maritime defence," he added.
Also present was Armed Forces chief General Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor, RMN chief Admiral Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin and Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir.
With a contract value of RM9 billion, each of the LCS is equipped with warfare capabilities for electronic, air, surface and underwater threats, integrated with state-of-the-art systems.
The ships are based on an enlarged version of the Gowind-class corvette, designed by DCNS of France.
A distinctive feature of the LCS is its stealth capability.