The Royal Malaysian Navy first littoral mission ship (LMS), the KD Keris arrived safely at at the Sepanggar naval base at Kota Kinabalu, located in the state of Sabah in the Malaysian part of the island of Borneo. The LMS acquisition project has paved a new dimension in the Royal Malaysian Navy preparedness to fulfill its increasingly broad and challenging role to protect the security and sovereignty of national waters, especially in Sabah and Sarawak waters. As a maritime nation, the safety of Malaysian waters is of utmost importance and must be given priority to ensure stability and security are maintained, so that maritime and economic activities can be realised smoothly.
The acquisition contract for four littoral mission ship (LMS) was signed between the Ministry of Defence with Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNSSB) on Mar 23, 2017, in collaboration with China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co Ltd (CSOC). The construction of KD Keris started on July 31, 2018 in at the facilities of Wuchang Shipbuilding at Qidong, near Shanghai and was launched by Normah Alwi, wife of Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, on April 15, 2019. This was the first major defence acquisition project from China, with the second ship, Sundang, scheduled to be handed over in April 2020, while the third and fourth ships are expected to be handed over in mid 2021.
The Keris-class littoral mission ship is a class of large patrol vessels of the Royal Malaysian Navy with the length of 69m and displacing 780 tons. A total of 18 ships of this class are planned. As of 2018, four ships have been funded by the Malaysian government. All ships are planned to be armed with various weapons according to the role, such as a main gun, missile and torpedo launchers. The ships will be able carry up to three standard ISO containers for mission modules including mine warfare, hydrography and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) duties. The Littoral Mission Ship acquisition program was revised in early 2019 to reduce the procurement costs and shorten the delivery process.
The littoral mission ship (LMS) was one of the five classes of ships in Royal Malaysian Navy’s ‘15 to 5’ fleet transformation programme. Some of the goals of the transformation plan are a 40% increase in days spend at sea for ships across the fleet, an 85% average state of readiness and a total of 55 ships in the RMN fleet by the year 2050. There are today 15 classes of ships in the RMN fleet. The goal is to reduce that number to 5 classes: 18 New Generation Patrol Vessels, 18 Littoral Mission Vessels, 4x Submarines, Littoral Combat Ships and Multi Role Support Ships. The plan was a brainchild of the former RMN Chief of Navy, Admiral Kamarul.