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Malaysia’s Coast Guard Receives New Offshore Patrol Vessel

Malaysia’s Maritime Enforcement Agency took delivery of a new Offshore Patrol Vessel on January 2, with the provisionally named OPV1 handed over in a nighttime ceremony at shipbuilder TH Heavy Engineering Berhad’s shipyard at Pulau Indah, Port Klang.

The ceremony was officiated by the Secretary General of Malaysia’s Home Ministry, Yang Bahagia Datuk Haji Ruji bin Haji Ubi. Other senior officials in attendance included the director of the MMEA, Laksamana Maritim Datuk Hamid Mohd Amin, and TH Heavy Engineering Berhad chairman Yang Bahagia Dato’ Ir. Jauhari bin Hamidi.

After the ceremony, OPV1 was docked at the Royal Malaysian Navy’s National Hydrographic Centre at Pulau Indah, with a Navy delegation visiting the OPV on January 5. According to a statement issued after the visit, the delegation sought to explore potential Navy options for procuring new ships built in local shipyards.

The OPV1

OPV1 is the first of three ships in the class, a Malaysian-manufactured variant of Damen’s OPV 1800 design. While it is expected to be named KM (Kapal Maritim, or Coast Guard Ship) Tun Fatimah and already broadcasts with that name on the automated identification system, it has yet to officially receive the name.

In November, Laksamana Maritim Datuk Hamid Mohd Amin announced that OPV1 will be based in Kuching, Sarawak, where it will patrol the state’s South China Sea waters as part of a larger move to boost the MMEA’s presence in Borneo.

The 83 meters-long OPV has a beam of 13.7 meters, accommodates up to 70 crew members, and is capable of reaching a top speed of 21 knots. According to the MMEA, the OPV has an endurance of up to 21 days, and can operate in Force 7 conditions offshore.

OPV1’s main armament is a 30mm Mk44 Bushmaster II cannon mounted in Aselsan’s SMASH remote-controlled weapons system. Other equipment and facilities include X and S-band radars, a helipad, and the ability to operate unmanned aerial vehicles. Additionally, it can carry up to two rigid hull inflatable boats and fast interceptor craft. 

Troubled Waters

The January 2 delivery of OPV1 ends a 16-month delay in the completion and delivery of the ship, with all three OPVs originally planned to have been delivered in 2020. Following the takeover of the shipbuilder by the Malaysian Ministry of Finance, delivery of OPV1 was retargeted for August 2022, but it would miss that and subsequent delivery dates set in March, July, November and December 2023.

While the Ministry of Finance announced a RM152.6 million capital injection into TH Heavy Engineering Berhad in January 2023 to ensure OPV1’s completion, the shipyard announced that it would be pursuing a voluntary winding-up in September 2023 due to mounting debts, placing the completion of the second and third OPVs in question.


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