The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) is expected to receive the remaining two Littoral Mission Ships (LMS) in August and November this year. The LMS is part of the RMN’s ‘15 to 5’ fleet transformation programme. The first LMS (KD Keris), received last year, had joined the RMN fleet on Jan 17 to carry out patrol and maritime surveillance duties, while the second LMS (Sundang) had just been received on Jan 14. The LMS would join the 11th LMS Squadron to carry out search and rescue efforts and to enforce Malaysian maritime law. The procurement of the fourth LMS was signed in March 2017 under the Defence Ministry’s contract with Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd and Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co Ltd, China.
The Littoral Mission Ships is part of the RMN’s ‘15 to 5’ fleet transformation programme, which involves reducing its current 15 classes of vessels to just five — namely, the LMS, Multi-Role Support Ships (MRSS), Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), Patrol Vessels (PV) and submarines. 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 plan was a brainchild of the former RMN Chief of Navy, Admiral Kamarul.
The Keris class are a class of large patrol vessels (Littoral Mission Ship) of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) with a length of 69 metres (226 ft 5 in) and displacing 700 tons. A total of 18 ships are planned. As of 2018, four ships have been funded by the Malaysian government. The ships are enlarged and improved version of Durjoy-class large patrol craft of the Bangladesh Navy but armed with only guns as per requirement of the Royal Malaysian Navy. The ships able to carry up three standard ISO containers. The ships will support missions including anti-surface warfare, mine warfare, hydrography and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) duties.
The ships will be built by Malaysia and China companies under the joint development agreement. Malaysia and China agreed to jointly develop a Littoral Mission Ship and, two ships will be built in China by China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Co. Ltd, the rest will be built in Malaysia by local company Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation (BHIC). The first ship was to be delivered to the Royal Malaysian Navy by 2019, the second and third by 2020 and the fourth by 2021. After the government changed in 2018 Malaysian general election, the Littoral Mission Ship acquisition program was revised in early 2019 to reduce the procurement costs and shorten the delivery process.