The Scorpene is completely joined



Yesterday, Chief of Navy Admiral Datuk Ramlan Mohamed Ali and his officers witnessed the joining of the first Royal Malaysian Navy submarine. Now, boat no.1, which is expected to be named KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, takes its usual cigar shape. This ceremony that took place with a full French Navy regalia at the DCNi dockyards in Cherbourg, France.

This attaching signifies all the major equipments and apparatus in the submarine, such as the diesel engine, electric engine, fuel tanks, battery cells, ballast tanks and torpedo room equipments have been in place and no major or large attachments will be added to the boat from now on.

This is a landmark in Malaysian history. The RMN submarine project team consist of 20 officers have been supervising the submarine project since early 2003. This team is lead by First Adm. Roslan Omar have the task to go through the entire 17,000 technical page appendix from the contract, which was signed by MINDEF with DCNi and Thales of France, Izar of Spain and Perimekar Sdn. Bhd., as their local agent. Perimekar facilitated the very complex technical negotiations with the user, namely RMN and MINDEF, for almost 2 years.

The Scorpene submarine is 61.7 meter long, 1900 tons displaced (submerged), able to patrol the range of 5,000 nautical miles and will be manned by 31 men. This is the most sophisticated conventional submarine in the modern world today and most of its weapons and fire control systems befit the ones used by French nuclear submarines. A nine man team only required to operate this highly computerized strategic war machine at any time and it is able to dive over 300 meters and stay completely operational underwater for 7 days. It can carry a mixture of 18 Franco-Italian Whitehead Alenia highly developed Black Shark torpedoes and MBDA SM-39 Exocet anti shipping missiles (six in the tube and twelve on the rack). These Black Sharks are equipped with passive sonar and able to hit a programed and downloaded designated target 50 km away.

Currently, Scorpenes are under the Chilean Navy service. After this, the fitting out of the submarine will be undertaken and soon after, all the rigorous testing and sea trials will be conducted. This boat is expected to sail from from France in late 2009. The second boat will be completed at the Izar dock, in Cartagena, Spain. The latest book order is from India, numbering six.

At the moment, 156 RMN officers and men are undergoing serious training program in Brest, France. The French Navy gave an Agosta 70 Class submarine, pro bono, for this training purpose. They have started this training since 2005 and the will comprise the crew that will sail with boats and maintain the force, which will be housed in RMN’s soon to be completed Sepanggar Bay base near Karambunai, Sabah.

The decision to acquire this strategic war deterrent was done sometime in 1999. Since the early 80’s RMN has expressed their desire to have submarine capabilities and since the early 90’s, officers are trained with Australian, French, Turkish and Royal Navies for submarine competencies. The Chief of Navy then, Admiral Tan Sri Abu Bakar Jamal managed to convince Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that Malaysia needs a strategic war deterrent machine for its own defense and the region. Her maritime features, expanding vast exclusive economic zones and mass body of water between the Peninsula, Sarawak and Sabah requires a lot of resources to watch and protect. Another important point is that the argument that a submarine is able to do ten surface warfare ships’ role is a serious factor consideration. When a country has operational submarine capabilities, an aggressor’s force will seriously have to consider the factor to balance its military capability before engaging in a naval conflict.

To the men who made this submarine happened,

Namely, Adm. (Rtd.) Tan Sri Abu Bakar Jamal, Tan Sri Hashim Meon, Tan Sri Subhan Jasmon, First Adm. Roslan Omar, Capt. Rahman Ayob, the two most hardworking designated RMN COs in training, Lt. Cdr. Zulhelmi and Lt. Cdr. Baharuddin Nor, the men in whites in MINDEF, Cherbourg and Brest and most of all, the late Mustaffa Dapat, this signify a quantum leap in the Royal Malaysian Navy’s strategic asset arms locker.

Your hardwork and dedication to this project is unsurpassed. My salute is for you guys!




Photo of the late Mustaffa at the 101st & 82nd US Airborne Division museum in St. Mere D’Eglise, Normandy, sometime in 2003



I never able to tell you how much I missed you, since your sudden demise on 28 august 2004 in that hospital in Caen, France, two months short of your 40th birthday. I guess your contribution in this project facilitating the entire lengthy technical negotiations 2001-2002, all by yourself, between DCNi & Thales and RMN, was the single most important jigsaw piece in this picture. An MRSM alumnus, aeronautic engineering graduate from Ohio, enrolling into KD Pelanduk, earned the first dolphins in RMN (along with Kept. Rahman Ayob), went for a second tour of duty in the RAN submarine fleet (by the request of Australian MINDEF) and highest degree of respect earned along the way, including Dato’ Syed Hamid Albar (Minister of Defense when the submarine project gets it principle go ahead). Honour on you, was really etched as fresh as yesterday once Adm. (Rtd.) Tan Sri Ilyas Din (then Fleet Operation Commander) said, at breakfast, Awana Porto Malai in LIMA ’01 as “a former future CN. His departure from the Navy is a lost to us”.

Adieu, mon kapitan. May Allah s.w.t. bless you and may you rest in peace.


Published in: on March 16, 2007 at 00:26  Comments (11)