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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Malaysia: Some Vessel Troubles

Malaysia, as reported here is looking into a contract to build 27 "high-tech" ships known as offshore patrol vessels (OPV) of which 6 were already supposed to be delivered. But the sea trials of the first vessel went badly.
"The failure of the first OPV to carry out its duty is not only a waste of our investment but it has also exposed the country to the risks of enemy threats, whether from neighbouring nations or from pirates," said DAP's Sec-Gen Lim Guan Eng.

For instance, he said the United States had previously sought to help police the Malacca Strait against possible terrorist attacks on shipping while the Indonesian navy was showing its might in a disputed oil-rich maritime area off Borneo island.

There has also been a spate of pirate raids on ships in the Malacca Strait since February, sparking fears that the ease with which ships have been boarded may tempt terrorists to stage a seaborne attack.

Malaysia announced it will place armed and uniformed police officers on board tugboats and barges plying the waterway, which carries a quarter of world trade and half its oil supplies. But it rejected suggestions that the US or other foreign navies be allowed to help patrol the Strait.

"We call for a royal commission of inquiry to be set up to look into the problems of building and delivering the OPVs because it is an issue of public interest involving the country's finance and integrity," Lim added.

Update: OPVs are built on the MEKO 100 model.

Some more background:
The vessels will be delivered by Blohm + Voss GmbH to Malaysia in the form of large modules. The ships will then be completed by PSC-NDSB in Lumut, Malaysia.

The yard of PSC-NDSB was built by Blohm + Voss AG in the 1980s as a naval shipyard on the order of Thyssen.

Malaysia is located at the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea on the height of the Philippines. In view of the geopolitical situation, the new patrol vessels will have a stabilizing function in this region.

In addition to the two patrol vessels built at Blohm + Voss GmbH another up to 27 units are planned to be built.
(source). And note Alan E. Brain's comment below.

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