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Malaysia floats out first Maharaja Lela ship seven years after faux launch

Malaysian Minister of Defence Mohamed Khaled Nordin at the Lumut Naval Base on 4 June 2024, where it was disclosed that the country's first LCS (seen here in the background) was launched into the water on 23 May 2024. (Royal Malaysian Navy)

Malaysia's Lumut Naval Shipyard (LUNAS) has put the country's first Maharaja Lela-class littoral combat ship (LCS) into the water, the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) disclosed in a media statement on 4 June.

The vessel, which will be in service as KD Maharaja Lela once it is commissioned, was floated out on 23 May, the service said in the statement that was released in conjunction with a visit by the country's Minister of Defence Mohamed Khaled Nordin to the RMN base at Lumut.

This milestone came almost seven years after the vessel was supposedly launched by LUNAS' predecessor Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS).

On 24 August 2017 BNS held a ceremony to ‘launch' the vessel. However, in details that only began emerging three years after the supposed milestone, it was revealed by a government-convened committee that the ship never took to the water.

Major sections of the vessel, including its superstructure and composite mast, were incomplete at the time of its ‘launch'.

In its statement on 4 June the RMN noted that Maharaja Lela has been floated out to prepare for the integration of various platform components including its combat system, ahead of its harbour acceptance trials (HATs) and sea acceptance trials (SATs).

The service made no reference to the various delays that have been plaguing the programme since its conception.

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