PETALING JAYA: The construction of the navy’s first littoral combat ship is expected to be completed next year, defence minister Mohamad Hasan said today.
He said after a visit to the Royal Malaysian Navy base in Lumut today that overall, the construction of the six ships was on schedule.
“For the first ship, there is only one more block to complete, and it won’t take long. The engine, propeller, and gearbox have been installed, only the electrical equipment and weapons (remain).
“I am confident that this first ship will be ready in 2024 for sea trials before being commissioned,” he told reporters.
Mohamad said the other five ships were in various stages of completion.
“Some need to be checked in terms of leaks, artillery, and ECU (electronic control unit). We hope that all previous problems will be resolved. This includes the issue with middlemen which is almost resolved where from now on we will directly deal with vendors only.
“There are also some who ask why we continue this project (despite the ongoing economic uncertainty), my answer is simple, matters pertaining to national sovereignty and defence cannot be compromised. You can say whatever you like but Mindef (the ministry of defence) remains focused on this,” he said.
Last week, Mohamad said the government would be going ahead with the troubled RM9 billion project to strengthen the country’s defences and the navy’s capabilities.
The project came under scrutiny last year after the Public Accounts Committee said that none of the six ships had been completed although RM6.08 billion had been spent on the project so far.
The LCS contract was awarded to Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd through direct negotiations. The frigate-class ships are based on the Gowind design of corvettes produced by the Naval Group of France.
In August last year, Anwar Ibrahim, then opposition leader, had urged Putrajaya to halt the next phase of the project and redirect the funds to assist the people instead.
The government of Ismail Sabri Yaakob had decided three months earlier to proceed with the project.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, which investigated the project, had recommended that several people be charged.