Royal Malaysian Navy

With a coast­line of 4,675 km, an ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone cov­er­ing an area of 5,98,540 square km, and geo­graph­i­cally strad­dling some of the most im­por­tant sea lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the world, Malaysia is with­out doubt a mar­itime na­tion with an im­por­tan


With a coast­line of 4,675 km, an ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone cov­er­ing an area of 5,98,540 square km, and geo­graph­i­cally strad­dling some of the most im­por­tant sea lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the world, Malaysia is with­out doubt a mar­itime na­tion with an im­por­tant role to play. Lt Gen­eral Naresh Chand (Retd)

MALAYSIAE IS A MAR­ITIME na­tion with a coast­line of 4,675 km, out of which 2,068 km is in Penin­su­lar Malaysia and 2,607 km in east Malaysia. Malaysia is sur­rounded by strait of Malacca and the south China sea (SCS) which are in­ter­na­tion­ally im­por­tant wa­ter bod­ies and also con­nected to other strate­gic mar­itime ar­eas like the Indian Ocean, an­daman sea, sulu sea and su­lawesi sea. The strait of Malacca, ly­ing between su­ma­tra and Penin­su­lar Malaysia, is one of the most im­por­tant thor­ough­fares in global mar­itime trade, car­ry­ing 40 per cent of the worldI s E trade. Malaysia s eco­nomic wealth is also de­rived from the sea in terms of oil and fish­eries. Thus with a long coast­line of 4,675 km, an ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone (EEZ) cov­er­ing an area of 5,98,540 square km, and geo­graph­i­cally strad­dling some of the most im­por­tant sea lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the world, Malaysia is a mar­itime na­tion whose strate­gi­cal and geopo­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests lie in its mar­itime do­main. The prime agency des­ig­nated with the re­spon­si­bil­ity to safe­guard its mar­itime in­ter­ests is the Royal Malaysian navy (RMN).

The Royal Malaysian Navy

The Malaysian armed forces ( angkatan Ten­tera Malaysia) have the Malaysian army (Ten­tera darat Malaysia), Royal Malaysian navy (Ten­tera Laut di­raja Malaysia) and the Royal Malaysian air Force (Ten­tera Udara di­raja Malaysia). The ori­gin of the RMn can be traced to the for­ma­tion of the straits set­tle­ment Royal naval vol­un­teer Re­serve (ssRnvR) in april 1934 to aug­ment the bri­tish naval forces dur­ing world war II. This force was de­mo­bilised af­ter the war but was es­tab­lished again in 1948 as an in­dige­nous force but still un­der the bri­tish. af­ter Malaysia achieved in­de­pen­dence in 1957, the force was trans­ferred to the lo­cal govern­ment but the naval force con­tin­ued to be based at wood­lands, sin­ga­pore. This small band of sailors proved their met­tle dur­ing the ÔKon­fran­tasiÕ with In­done­sia in the 1960s. The In­done­sian-Malaysian con­fronta­tion was a vi­o­lent con­flict from 1963-66 due to In­done­si­aÕs op­po­si­tion to the cre­ation of Malaysia. RMn be­gan build­ing a naval base at Lu­mut in 1970 which was to be com­pleted in 1984. The base is lo­cated on the coast of Perak fac­ing the strait of Malacca and was to be used as the Fleet Op­er­a­tions Com­mand Cen­tre and the main fleet base. Other bases came up at Kuan­tan on the east coast of Penin­su­lar Malaysia and at Labuan Is­land, sabah.

Mar­itime Se­cu­rity En­vi­ron­ment. The RMN un­der­went ex­pan­sion dur­ing the early 1980s to meet new re­spon­si­bil­i­ties due to the in­crease in the area of re­spon­si­bil­ity and chang­ing of the mar­itime se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment of the re­gion. RMn was de­vel­op­ing a force which could per­form the role of blue wa­ter navy as well carry out pa­trolling on the in­shore and coastal ar­eas with op­er­a­tional fo­cus mainly on strait of Malacca and the south China sea. The strait of Malacca runs between In­done­sia, Malaysia and sin­ga­pore, and has long been a ma­jor gate­way for trade to and from asia. Piracy in the strait of Malacca has for long been a threat to mer­chant navy but as per the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime bureau, it is un­der check due to the co­or­di­nated pa­trols by In­done­sia, Malaysia and sin­ga­pore along with mer­chant ships hav­ing in­creased se­cu­rity on­board. The South China Sea is part of the Pa­cific Ocean and ex­tends from the Kari­mata and Malacca strait to the strait of Tai­wan with an area of about 35,00,000 square km. about 30 per cent of the worldÕs ship­ping passes through sCs and it also holds oil and gas re­serves. RMn op­er­a­tions in sCs are fo­cused around pro­tect­ing sea bed re­sources be­lieved to ly­ing in Malaysi­aÕs eeZ.

In the early 1980s the RMn was the small­est of the three ser­vices which had two frigates, eight mis­sile fast-at­tack craft, few armed fast-at­tack craft, large pa­trol ves­sels, minesweep­ers, land­ing ves­sels, and other sup­port craft. On or­der were two mis­sile frigates and four mine­hunters. In ad­di­tion, the RMn had a re­serve force called the Royal Malaysian naval vol­un­teer Re­serve. Malaysia, In­done­sia and the Philip­pines have been suc­cess­ful in es­tab­lish­ing tri-na­tional agree­ments among each other to en­hance se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion in the Celebes sea but these agree­ments lack co­he­sive­ness to tackle the ter­ror­ist and piracy threats in the area. It has been re­ported in the 2009 that a few en­coun­ters had taken place in 2009 in the dis­puted am­balat wa­ters off the eastern bor­neo. Malaysia of­fi­cially con­sid­ers the dis­puted wa­ters as part of its ter­ri­tory. In 2002 the In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice’s de­ci­sion gave Malaysia sovereignty over sipadan and Lig­i­tan which was ear­lier dis­puted.

Malaysia’s EEZ

at the time of its birth in 1948, the role of the navy was to pa­trol the coastal wa­ters of Penin­su­lar Malaysia and sin­ga­pore and as­sist in coun­ter­ing com­mu­nist in­sur­gency along the river. Post-in­de­pen­dence, the RMn has in­her­ited the re­spon­si­bil­ity of about 4,000 nau­ti­cal miles of coast which in­cludes more than 1,000 Is­lands. dur­ing the 1980s, the RMnÕs task in­creased due the dec­la­ra­tion of the eeZ on april 25, 1980, based on the, Ônew map bound­ary wa­ters and con­ti­nen­tal shelf 1979.Õ

Mod­erni­sa­tion and Force Level

New-Gen­er­a­tion Pa­trol Ves­sel (NGPV). In the mid-1990s Malaysia planned an am­bi­tious joint ven­ture (JV) with Aus­tralia to build 39 off­shore pa­trol ves­sels with a view to lay the base for an ex­port-ori­ented ship­build­ing in­dus­try. How­ever, this JV did not fruc­tify as Malaysia pulled out of it. This was fol­lowed by a plan to build 27 Kd Kedah MeKO 100 new-gen­er­a­tion pa­trol ves­sel in 1996 but the pro­gramme was de­layed for about three years due to var­i­ous rea­sons but fi­nally fruc­ti­fied with six ships of MeKO a100 Kedah class com­mis­sioned between Fe­bru­ary 2006 and de­cem­ber 2010. The first two ships were built in Ger­many for ship­ment to Malaysia and as­sem­bly, and fit­ting was car­ried out at Lu­mut. The dis­place­ment is 1,650 tonnes at full load, speed is 22 kt and a range is 6,050 nau­ti­cal miles at 12 kt. The govern­ment has gone ahead with the con­struc­tion of the sec­ond batch of the nGPv ten­der for which was is­sued in July 2014 and closed on au­gust 25, 2014. It is re­ported that the nGPv will have a length of 43-45 me­tres, dis­place­ment of not more than 250 tonnes and with em­barka­tion for 30 crew and 10 ex­tra per­son­nel when re­quired, an en­durance of 7 days at 12 knots and a max­i­mum speed of more than 25 knots. It is also spec­i­fied that it should have enough deck space to launch and re­cover a cat­a­pult launch Uav. The anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare (asw) con­fig­ured NGPV is ex­pected to be able to co­or­di­nate op­er­a­tions with the scor­pene sub­marines and armed with mis­siles. They are also to be built at a lo­cal ship­yard.

Sec­ond Gen­er­a­tion Pa­trol Ves­sel (SGPV). a ten­der for 24 corvettes was floated in 2011 to carry out the role of area sur­veil­lance mis­sions, anti-piracy and ter­ror­ism op­er­a­tions as well as the preser­va­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment among oth­ers. The French ship­builder dCns ap­peared to be the favourite who had pro­posed a corvette of the Gowind class which also al­lows de­ploy­ing a he­li­copter or a drone. The process for the ac­qui­si­tion of six lit­toral com­bat ships (LCS), also called the SGPV, has been fi­nally ini­ti­ated and ac­cord­ingly the RMn dis­played for the first time their of­fi­cial ver­sion of its fu­ture sGPv dur­ing au­gust 2014. It is based on dCnsÕ Gowind corvette de­sign. dCns is the war­ship de­sign author­ity while lo­cal ship­yard boustead naval ship­yard will be in charge of build­ing the ves­sels lo­cally. It is likely that Mbda will pro­vide anti-ship and sur­face-to-air mis­siles. The first ship is set to be floated dur­ing De­cem­ber 2018. It ap­pears that the corvette pro­gramme has fi­nally been con­verted to six LCS which will have length of 111 me­tres and a dis­place­ment of 3,100 tonnes. The ships will have state-of-the-art sen­sors, propul­sion, man­age­ment sys­tems and weapons.

Frigates. Malaysia has also an­nounced that it plans to buy at least two frigates with an op­tion for two more from bae sys­tems un­der Frigate batch 2 Pro­gramme but the deal has made no head­way yet.

Kas­turi Class Frigates. Two Kas­turi class frigates have un­der­gone a ser­vice life ex­ten­sion pro­gramme (sLeP) to en­able 15 more years of ser­vice and both have been re­ported to join the fleet af­ter un­der­go­ing SLEP.

Scor­pene Sub­marines. The RMn re­alised the need for a sub­ma­rine force as early as 1980s thus they started train­ing their of­fi­cers and sailors abroad in the field of sub­ma­rine op­er­a­tions, main­te­nance and man­age­ment. There had been sev­eral ini­tia­tives to ac­quire sub­marines, par­tic­u­larly in the 1990s; un­for­tu­nately they did not fruc­tify mainly due to fi­nan­cial con­straints. The RMN got its break in the new mil­len­nium when the govern­ment signed a con­tract to ac­quire two scor­pene class sub­marines on June 5, 2002, to be built jointly by the French ship­builder dCns and its span­ish part­ner, na­van­tia. The sub­marines are armed with black­shark wire-guided tor­pe­does and Ex­o­cet SM-39 sub-launched anti-ship mis­siles. The first ves­sel, KD Tunku ab­dul Rah­man, was launched at dCns Cher­bourg in Oc­to­ber 2007 and com­mis­sioned in Jan­uary 2009. The sec­ond, Tun Razak, was the com­mis­sioned in novem­ber 2009.

Pa­trol Boats. RMn plans to ac­quire more mod­ern mar­itime pa­trol and re­con­nais­sance ca­pa­bil­ity for more ef­fec­tive pa­trolling against piracy and smug­gling in the Malacca strait. This is cur­rently be­ing pro­vided by four beechcraft su­per King air b200Ts which was ac­quired in 1994 and are ex­am­in­ing of­fers re­ceived from some of the com­pa­nies like Lock­heed Martin, northrop Grum­man, em­braer and air­bus D&S. Malaysia has iden­ti­fied a re­quire­ment for three to four plat­forms.

Naval He­li­copters. They have ac­quired 6 Su­per Lynx 300 for anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare from UK and 6 Fenec as-555 for sur­veil­lance from France.

Piracy in the Strait of Malacca has for long been a threat to mer­chant navy but as per the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Bureau, it is un­der check due to the co­or­di­nated pa­trols by In­done­sia, Malaysia and Sin­ga­pore


Fu­ture plans for the RMN in­clude ex­tend­ing the life of its four Lak­samana class corvettes, up­grad­ing the shipsÕ weapons sys­tems and sen­sors, and im­ple­ment­ing a re­fit pro­gramme for the frigates KD Lekiu and KD Je­bat. RMN is de­vel­op­ing into a bal­anced mar­itime force which is ca­pa­ble of per­form­ing its role ef­fec­tively.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: Wik­ipe­dia

Malaysia’s first Scor­pene class diesel-elec­tric sub­ma­rine KD Tunku Ab­dul Rah­man

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