The first Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) Scorpene submarine KD Tunku Abdul Rahman will return to service mid-year, following the completion of an extensive in-country refit undertaken by Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation Berhad (BHIC).
In November 2018, Tunku Abdul Rahman, for the first time joined a training exercise held in the East Coast of Sabah. The submarine, which is one of the two Scorpene-class vessels owned by RMN based in Kota Kinabalu, joined in the training with ships from Naval Region Two (Mawilla 2).
According to the RMN, the presence of the submarine has had a positive impact on the maritime community in eastern Sabah, especially in terms the confidence in RMN’s credibility to safeguard the waters of the Eastern Sabah Security Zone which is vulnerable to threats such as cross-border and sea crimes.
In 2002, the Malaysian government purchased two Scorpene-class submarines from French warship builder DCN International SA for RM4.7 billion. French defence company Thales Group owns about a third of the company which is now operating under the name Naval Group. RMN’s second submarine Tun Razak has commenced its refit and is expected to re-join the Navy in 2020.
The refit for Scorpene-class submarines is undertaken every eight years and the completion of this task by CHIC in Malaysia is a commendable achievement, considering that the Scorpenes are the first ever submarines to be operated by the RMN. Engineering and obsolescence management for the submarines is by BHIC, though no major systems were upgraded over the course of the refit.
The refit takes 18 months and work on both submarines was contracted to BHIC at 1.8 billion MYR. The two submarines were delivered in January and October 2009 respectively, following the 2002 order. Under the terms of the original Scorpene submarine contract, BHIC was to complete the refit of both Scorpene submarines in Sepangar Naval Base and ensure that the submarines are safe to dive after the refit.
In addition to this BHIC provides the RMN with In-Service Support (ISS). The major aspect of the ISS package provided by BHIC is the Assisted Maintenance Period (AMP), Docking for Essential Defects (DED) and Continuous Corrective Maintenance during the operational period. Currently there are four customers for the Scorpene; India (6), Brazil (4), Malaysia (2) and Chile (2).
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