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Sea Platforms

Malaysia deploys naval ship at new base near disputed island with Singapore

11 August 2017

Key Points

  • Malaysia has made its first naval deployment to a new installation near an island it believes is part of Putrajaya’s territory
  • Move may herald more frequent deployments of Malaysian naval assets into the disputed region, but this is unlikely to affect bilateral relations between the two countries

KD Perdana berthing at the Abu Bakar Maritime Base in August 2017, marking the first arrival of a naval vessel at the facility (Royal Malaysian Navy)KD Perdana berthing at the Abu Bakar Maritime Base in August 2017, marking the first arrival of a naval vessel at the facility (Royal Malaysian Navy)

The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) has for the first time deployed a naval vessel at the Abu Bakar Maritime Base, a new facility near the entrance of the Singapore Strait, just days after it was inaugurated by the Sultan of Johor on 1 August.

The vessel deployed was the first-of-class Perdana (La Combattante II) ship, KD Perdana (3501), a 44 m missile-capable fast attack craft built by France shipbuilder CMN Group, and commissioned by the RMN in 1972, according to Jane’s Fighting Ships .

Images of the vessel’s arrival at the facility was posted by RMN chief Admiral Ahmad Kamarulzaman bin Ahmad Badaruddin via an official social media account on 10 August, but the vessel’s exact arrival date was not disclosed. “Congratulations [KD Perdana ], first ship of the Royal Malaysian Navy to berth at Abu Bakar Maritime Base in the Middle Rocks,” said the chief in his post accompanying the images.

The Abu Bakar Maritime Base has been constructed across two uninhabited natural formations known as Middle Rocks, and is located approximately 500 m southeast of Pedra Branca, an outlying island under the jurisdiction of Singapore that Kuala Lumpur believes is part of its territory. The facility includes a 316 m jetty, what appears to be a lighthouse cum observation deck, and a helicopter landing pad.

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