The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) has commissioned its first warship made in China.
KD Keris (with 111 pennant number), the service’s first of four Littoral Mission Ships (LMSs), entered service in a ceremony held on 6 January at the facilities of Wuchang Shipbuilding at Qidong, near Shanghai, according to an RMN statement issued the same day.
The 68.8 m-long vessel, which had been handed over to the service on 31 December 2019, is expected to sail on 8 January to the RMN’s Sepanggar base at Kota Kinabalu – located in the state of Sabah in the Malaysian part of the island of Borneo – where it will be homeported. The LMS, which is due to arrive in Sepanggar on 17 January, was launched at Wuhan on 15 April 2019.
The second ship of the class, Sundang (112), was launched on 12 July, also at Wuhan, and is expected to be handed over to the RMN in April. The remaining two ships of the class, which will also be built at Wuhan, are expected to be delivered in mid-2021.
Once in service, the RMN’s four LMSs are set to be based at Sepanggar, which also serves as the headquarters for the RMN’s Eastern Fleet.
The LMSs are part of contract signed in 2017 between Malaysia’s Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) and the China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Corporation (CSOC) that marked Malaysia’s first order for Chinese-made naval vessels.
BNS was originally set to construct two Keris-class vessels in Malaysia with assistance from CSOC as part of a technology transfer and capacity-building arrangement.
However, a revision by the new Malaysian administration, which took office following the May 2018 general elections, saw the contract value being reduced from USD289 million to USD205 million, with construction of all four ships moved to China.
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