The Malaysian government approved the resumption of production of Maharaja Lela (Gowind)-class littoral combat ships (LCSs) for the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) on 5 May after having temporarily suspended the project due to issues with the shipbuilder over delays and rising costs.
Very little information has emerged but Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on 7 May that Malaysia’s Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) has been given “strict conditions” to ensure the completion of the project, although no details were provided about the conditions.
Malaysia’s first LCS,
, during its launch ceremony in August 2017. The Malaysian government announced the resumption of the LCS programme on 5 May.
(Royal Malaysian Navy)
Ismail said the approval was given to safeguard the jobs of 1,600 workers at the shipyard and the viability of 400 local companies involved in the project. The government had mulled cancelling the project in July 2020 as none of the six ships, contracted in 2014 for USD2.2 billion, had been completed on schedule.
As Janes reported, Malaysia selected a design variant of the Gowind family of corvettes from French shipbuilder Naval Group (then DCNS) for the LCS programme. Although first-of-class Maharaja Lela (pennant number 2501) was launched in August 2017 at BNS’s facility in Lumut, the ship is only about 60% complete. It was originally slated for delivery to the RMN in 2019.
Four other ships of the class are at different stages of construction, while the sixth has yet to be laid down due to the lack of space at the yard. In November 2019 Janes reported that the troubled programme was already facing a cost overrun of about MYR1.4 billion (USD340 million).