Malaysia’s littoral combat ship programme faces three-year delay, cost overruns

Photo: Royal Malaysian Navy

Malaysia’s minister of defence has revealed that a RM9.12 billion (US$2.2 billion) programme to introduce a new class of warships into service has been beset by cost overruns and a delay of nearly three years.

Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS), which is building the six Maharaja Lela-class littoral combat ships (LCS) for the Royal Malaysian Navy, said that construction of the vessels is only approximately 55.7 per cent complete as of September 30, 2019, Mr Mohamad bin Sabu recently confirmed in response to questions from parliament.

The contract awarded to BNS by the defence ministry in October 2013 stipulated that construction of the vessels should have reached the 78 per cent mark by the end of the third quarter of 2019.

Mr Mohamad projected that delivery of class lead ship Maharaja Lela will take place in 2023, or 34 months later than originally planned, due to delays in construction.

The LCS programme has also incurred additional costs amounting to RM1.4 billion (US$340 million), prompting the defence ministry to consider the allocation of additional funds to the project.

Mr Mohamad added that the programme faces “lots of problems” but declined discussing these in detail lest it signal a “loss in confidence” in the capabilities of the country’s shipbuilding industry.

Alternately known in Malaysia as Second Generation Patrol Vessels (SGPVs), the Maharaja Lela-class ships are slightly larger variants of the Gowind-class stealth corvettes designed by France’s Naval Group. The design submitted by the joint BNS and Naval Group team was chosen by the Malaysian Ministry of Defence over five others in a competitive bidding process held in 2011.

The SGPVs will be used primarily for defence against surface, sub-surface, and airborne threats.

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