The first of four Littoral Mission Ships (LMS) for the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) was handed over to the Defence Ministry on 31 December 2019.
A ministry official in a statement said that the vessel Keris was handed over at a ceremony at Wuchuan Shipbuilding Industry Co Ltd at Wucang Port, Qidong, in Shanghai, China.
The Malaysian delegation was headed by the ministry’s procurement division secretary Datuk Ahmad Husaini Abdul Rahman.
Others present included Eastern Fleet commander Vice-Admiral Datuk Pahlawan Syed Zahrul Putra Syed Abdullah and Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNSSB) chief executive officer Ee Teck Chee.
The statement said the Malaysian officials did a physical inspection of the vessel and its documents, and took part in a sailing demonstration.
This was followed by a signing ceremony for the acceptance of the vessel by BNSSB on behalf of the government.
Keris’ construction began on July 31, 2018, at Wuchuan Shuangliu Manufacture Base in Wuhan and successfully underwent sea trials.
It was then launched by Normah Alwi, wife of Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, on April 15 this year and underwent final trials.
The LMS is part of the RMN’s ’15 to 5’ fleet transformation programme, which involves reducing its current 15 classes of vessels to just five – namely, the LMS, Multi-Role Support Ships (MRSS), Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), Patrol Vessels (PV) and submarines.
The LMS contract was signed between the ministry, BNSSB and China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Co Ltd on March 23, 2017.
It was the first major defence acquisition project from China, reportedly for a total RM1.17 billion.
The second LMS, Sundang, is also being built in China and is expected to be delivered in April.
The remaining two, to be delivered by mid-2021, will be built in Malaysia through a joint-venture between BNSSB and China Shipbuilding and Offshore International.
An LMS can be used for maritime surveillance, border security as well as search and rescue operations. The LMS is scheduled to be commissioned as KD Keris during a traditional ceremony by RMN chief Admiral Tan Sri Mohd Reza Mohd Sany on Jan 6.
The ships are similar to the Bangladesh Navy’s Large Patrol Craft (LPC) however are considerably less armed.