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Slow progress: The Royal Malaysian Navy's modernisation challenges

KD Keris , the RMN's first LMS, arrived in Malaysia on 17 January after being commissioned 11 days earlier in a ceremony held at the facilities of Wuchang Shipbuilding at Qidong, near Shanghai. (Marhalim bin Abas )

In a ceremony held on 18 December at the facilities of China's Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group in Qidong, Nantong City, the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) took delivery of Rencong, the fourth and final Keris-class Littoral Mission Ship (LMS) ordered from China under a contract awarded in 2017 and renegotiated in 2019.

The 68.8 m-long vessel (with pennant number 114) arrived 10 days later at the Sepanggar Naval Base, its home port at Kota Kinabalu in Sabah in the Malaysian part of the island of Borneo. Here, the vessel joined the RMN's three other LMSs: first-of-class KD Keris, which was commissioned in January 2021, KD Sundang, which entered service in March 2021, and KD Badik, which was inducted in October 2021.

The Keris-class vessels were acquired under a contract signed in March 2017 between Malaysia's Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) and China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co Ltd (CSOC). BNS was originally set to construct the final two of these ships in Malaysia with assistance from CSOC. However, the contract value was reduced and construction of all four ships was moved to China under a 2019 revision made by the Malaysian government.

The β€˜15-to-5' transformation programme

The LMS acquisition is part of the RMN's β€˜15-to-5 Fleet Transformation Programme', which is meant to reduce the number of in-service vessel types over the coming years from 15 to five to increase efficiency, boost platform readiness, reduce operational and maintenance costs, and establish more commonality across the fleet.

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