Malay Mail erred in KD Tunku Abdul Rahman report

Last Wednesday, the ‘Paper That Cares’ carried a front page story about nation’s first submarine was unable to dive. It created some what ripple, after an earlier February report of the operational defect.

‘KD Tunku Abdul Rahman’ moored as more problems crop up

Marhalim Abas, July 7th 2010

PETALING JAYA: KD Tunku Abdul Rahman remains at the Teluk Sepanggar naval base in Sabah as problems have again resulted in the submarine being docked.

The Malay Mail was informed by defence industry sources that the unspecified problems were detected after the submarine completed its tropical water trials last month. A routine maintenance check later revealed the problems.

Since then, the submarine has remained at the naval base unfixed.

It is learnt although the vessel obtained its Initial Operational Capability (IOC), it may take longer to be declared fully operational.

However, the arrival of the second Perdana Menteri-class submarine, KD Tun Razak, on July 2, was a godsend for the crew of its sister ship, KD Tunku Abdul Rahman. The crew is expected to take over the second submarine during its mandatory tropical water trial.

Sources said this was necessary as the KD Tunku Abdul Rahman crew may lose their submariners rating if they remained on land.

In February, The Paper That Cares reported that KD Tunku Abdul Rahman suffered a technical defect that prevented it from diving for three months. The submarine started tropical water trials on Feb 20.

KD Tunku Abdul Rahman was commissioned early last year after undergoing a two-year trial period in France.

The Royal Malaysian Navy procured the two submarines for RM3.4 billion in 2002 from French/Spanish shipbuilders, DCNS and Navantia.


It seems defense correspondence Marhalim Abas erred in his report. Probably from unreliable sources.

Sources from MINDEF said that Markas Tentera Laut denied the report. Although official statement has not been issued, the pride of the RMN Perdana Class Scorpene submarine KD Tunku Abdul Rahman was said to be have dived on most of the journey back from Bay of Biscay and arrived with the reception of full royal and military honours by HM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong Tuanku Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Ibni Almarhum Sultan Mahmud on 3 September 2009. Then she sailed to her permanent home in TLDM Kota Kinabalu at Sepanggar Bay, Sabah.

She is still under warranty by the constructor lead by Armaris of France. Her technical and operational readiness has been certified fully by the project team and did a vigorous process of sea trials prior to her delivery to TLDM. It is understood that the TLDM submarine project team is fully satisfied and she is expected to complete the tropical sea trials soon.

On 2 July 2010, the second Perdana Class submarine arrived at TLDM Lumut and this complete with the delivery KD Tun Razak. RMN is now a naval force to be reckoned with in this region with the full readiness of the submarine capability. Any naval force with submarine capability will enhance its potency equivalent to the factor 10 of surface warfare capability. It is imperative that RMN be a major naval force in the region, with the body of water that surrounds Malaysia and its position as a maritime state which a very large exclusive economic zone and a major international water waterway within its territory.

Why this story appeared as the front page on Wednesday is not sure. However Markas Tentera Laut is expected to issue an official statement soon to refute The Malay Mail report and dispel any false perception on the tactical and operational readiness of Malaysia’s most sophisticated and strategic weapon.

The pride of the navy and nation must be preserved. This include telling the right story.

*Updated Sunday 11 July 2010 0800hrs

The official statement by the Chief of Navy Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar refuting the Malay Mail report:


1.         Lately there has been a spate of articles in the media reporting the ‘status’ of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) submarines.  Two reports in particular highlighted purported major defects in the nation’s first submarine, the KD TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN (KD TAR) that supposedly rendered it unable to dive.  The RMN however regrets that these reports have been highly inaccurate and misleading resulting in the public being grossly misinformed of the actual status of the KD TAR.  Based on the articles published in the media as mentioned above, the RMN wishes to state the following:

  • a.         Prior to arriving safely in Kota Kinabalu on 17 September 2009, the KD TAR had sailed approximately 8300 nautical miles with 31 days submerged out of the 43 days spent at sea.  As such, the question of “Initial Operational Capability” or being “declared fully operational” does not arise as the submarine would not have completed the journey safely if it was not fully operational.
  • b.         At no point in time from the date of Physical Handover has the safety of both submarines and their crews been compromised by any defects on board.   A submarine is constantly subjected to, and operates in an extremely hostile and harsh environment which necessitates constant monitoring, maintenance and rectification of the systems and equipment on board.  Inadvertently, as in any submarine in the world, some equipment or systems can and will fail or be degraded in performance.  The KD TAR did encounter some defects and shortcomings but at no time did any of these defects endanger the crew or submarine to the extent of rendering it unable to dive, as claimed by the media.  The RMN has developed a very rigorous and thorough safety inspection, appraisal and verification process, similar or even more stringent to that of aircraft safety process, to certify a submarine ‘safe- to-dive’ before it is allowed to embark on any mission.
  • c.         Similar to an aircraft, any submarine will have to undergo compulsory scheduled maintenance after a specified period of operations.  These scheduled maintenance periods have been planned in advance to fit into the operational cycle of the submarines.  The KD TAR has undergone, as scheduled, several of those maintenance periods since returning to Malaysia.  Thus the statement “In February, The Paper That Cares reported that KD Tunku Abdul Rahman suffered a technical defect that prevented it from diving for three months.” is untrue as the KD TAR had in fact been undergoing its scheduled maintenance period during that period.
  • d.         The statement: “Since then, the submarine has remained at the naval base unfixed.”, is also irresponsible and conjures up an image of the submarine lying idle at the the naval base, unattended to and crippled.  The fact is that the submarines, like all RMN surface ships, are manned 24 hours a day, every day and all defects, however small or insignificant are acted on immediately.  However, in this case the statement is untrue as the KD TAR has in fact been operational, a fact that the Chief of Defence Forces can attest to when he dived with the submarine during her operations in the South China Sea on 5 – 8 March 2010.  Lately, the submarine had also successfully carried out a test firing of a mock-up missile during operations in the South China Sea.
  • e.         The statement by the same paper that  “the arrival of the second Perdana Menteri-class submarine KD TUN RAZAK, on July 2, was a godsend for the crew of its sister ship, KD TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN. The crew is expected to take over the second submarine during its mandatory tropical water trial.” is false as the crew of any vessel, be it a surface ship and more so a submarine, cannot and do not simply ‘take over’ another vessel.  The question of the the KD TAR crew losing their submariners rating if they remained on land as claimed by the article does not arise because, as has been explained above, the submarine has remained operational.  However, in the unlikely event that the submarine is indeed rendered unoperational for an extended period, the crew will still be able to maintain currency via simulator training which is available at the Submarine Training Centre at the Submarine Base.

4.         No submarine operating country in the world discusses the operational status of its submarines which are deemed highly sensitive strategic weapons in the media.  It is disheartening to note that the author had not  acted responsibly to make any effort to verify the facts before publishing them. Repeatedly publishing erroneous and misleading reports would not only tarnish the image of the RMN’s Submarine Force but also exposes the country’s defence establishment to ridicule. As such, the RMN has reluctantly been forced to rebut publicly the irresponsible misinformation and statements made in the above mentioned articles.

5.         The RMN also views very seriously the fact that “defence industry sources” have divulged, albeit erroneously, information that are highly classified to the press.  The RMN will initiate a thorough investigation to identify these sources, as these irresponsible elements could also be divulging information to other unauthorised parties.

6.         The RMN has and will always be committed to carrying out its responsibilities professionally, efficiently and effectively to ensure that the safety of its submarines and their crew are not compromised in any way at all times.  The RMN has always appreciated and respected the role of the media and will always continue to extend its fullest cooperation to the media whom it regards as an important and integral stakeholder in the development of the nation.  However the RMN hopes that members of the media will act in a more responsible and professional manner to verify their facts and figures before publishing them, especially when it involves the nation’s security.



Chief of Navy

Published in: on July 10, 2010 at 23:37  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “expected to complete the tropical sea trials soon.”

    Few may not realize that submarine may perform differently in tropical waters compared to a temperate water conditions where it was designed and built. It has to be climatized and modified where necessary.

    It is not that we are buying a dud.

    • True. Water temperature and density might affect the submarine operations in many ways. That is why the necessity to do a rigorous sea trials in ‘tropicalisation’ conditions.

  2. Good, RMN. Investigate the information leaks thoroughly. Get the culprits and expose them to the public. So that the country’s defence secrets will be respected at all times in the future.

    But why was the submarine purchased from France in the first place? Are they a well known and reliable submarine builder? I suppose if it was built by a well established manufacturer in a country leading in defence supplies, the concern over the validity of irresponsible reporting would be less.

  3. If the navy really thinks that the Malay Mail has erred, then demand that they apologise, and the reporter and editor to resign.

    • The Malay Mail should be able to do the right thing, without the navy demanding any actions. No Government agencies has ever demanded any main stream media to apologise on their error reporting. They usually take the initiative to rectify their mistakes on their own.

  4. 私人侦探网

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