Published in The Star Malaysia, Friday 24 July 2009:
LUMUT: The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) is urging the Government to consider building up a second batch of patrol vessels to reinforce its armada.
RMN chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar said this yesterday after the naming ceremony of the sixth and final patrol vessel built for the navy by Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd at the naval base here.
The vessel, christened KD Selangor by the Selangor Sultan’s daughter, Tengku Zatashah, is a part of the RM5.35bil contract awarded to Boustead to construct six off-shore patrol vessels for the RMN.
Abdul Aziz, however, said that the six ships were insufficient to fully equip the RMN’s armada, which had been experiencing the shortage ever since 17 of its ships were handed over to the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency in 2006.
“We need at least six more ships for the time being to overcome the shortage,” he said, adding that the request was not frivolous but born out of an “old need”.
Abdul Aziz acknowledged that during the current economic downturn, funding may be a problem for the Government.
“Having said that, we must also remember that we must never compromise on our country’s security. This is my belief.
“To put it plainly, the RMN truly hopes that there will be a second batch of vessels built for us, in order to further strengthen our current assets,” he said.
Abdul Aziz said the last three patrol vessels – the KD Terengganu, KD Kelantan and the KD Selangor - would be officially handed over to the RMN by the middle of next year, after tests in its seafaring capabilities were completed.
On a separate matter, Abdul Aziz said that the country’s first submarine, the French-made Scorpene, was due to arrive in Port Klang on Sep 3.