March 10, 2014

Malaysia's two Scorpenes - delivered 2009

Malaysia's first submarine, KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, docks in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, September 3, 2009.

Malaysia has a modest submarine force consisting of two Scorpenes: KD Tunku Abdul Rahmancommissioned in January 2009 and KD Tun Abdul Razak, commissioned in December 2009. Malaysia occasionally has low level naval confrontations with the Indonesia Navy over territorial boundaries and seabed oil rights (see my post about latest Ambalat flare up). Malaysia would also be sensitive about Singapore's growing submarine fleet (including Singapore's order in late 2013 of 2 HDW 218SGs). Malaysia is also in competition with countries in the northwest Pacific for resources in the South China Sea. To meet competition from Indonesia Malaysia's two Scorpenes are based at Sepanggar, Sabah. 

Scorpenes, like Australia's Collins, are attack submarines, with no capability to search for or recover crashed aircraft. Unlike most countries in the region Singapore has a highly specialised Submarines Support and Rescue Vessel (SSRV) the MV Swift RescueSSRVs are very expensive and rarely used - which explains why so few small to medium size navies have them. 


Agency France Press (AFP) reported
September 3, 2009:

"PORT KLANG, Malaysia — Malaysia's first ever submarine was delivered Thursday to colourful fanfare and a royal visitor, in an acquisition that the government said "completes" the country's navy.

The European-made Scorpene submarine [with 32 crew] is the first of two commissioned from French contractor DCNS and Spain's Navantia for a combined total of 3.4 billion ringgit (961 million US dollars). The second submarine is scheduled for delivery in late 2009.

"With the arrival of the first submarine, our navy is now complete as it has an air component, a sea component and now a submarine component," Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters.

The KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, named after the nation's first prime minister, sailed into a grand reception at the navy's deepwater Pulau Indah base in Port Klang, an hour's drive from the capital Kuala Lumpur...

Malaysian King Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin was given a tour of the submarine, which set sail 54 days ago from the French port of Toulon, where the vessel was built. [journey included 32 days submerged, 12 days surfaced and 10 days of docking at ports].

Naval officials said the submarine would be based in Sabah state, on Borneo island, where it will undergo fine-tuning before it is deployed in search and rescue and military exercises.

The two submarines have long attracted controversy since the deal was signed in 2002.

Malaysia's opposition claims that a 540-million-ringgit commission was paid to a close associate of now-Premier Najib Razak in brokering the deal..."