Thursday, October 14, 2010

Perdana Menteri (Scorpene) Class SSK

Perdana Menteri (Scorpene) - class SSK
Displacement : 1,565 tons (surfaced) / 1,700 tons (submerged)
Length : 61.7m
Beam : 6.2m
Draft : 2.19m
Crew : 32
Propulsion : Diesel-Electric, Batteries
Endurance : 40 days
Max. Operating Depth : >300 meters
Speed : 12 knots surfaced /20 knots submerged

Armament : 6 x 553mm torpedo tubes for Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes and SM39 Exocet anti-ship missiles

In June 2002, as part of its modernisation programme, the Royal Malaysian Navy ordered two Scorpene class submarines developed jointly by DCNS of France and Navantia of Spain. Based on the nuclear-powered Rubis class of the French Navy, the Scorpene class was designed to be an extremely quite vessel - the forms of the hull, sail and appendages were designed to deliver a minimum of hydrodynamic noise. The various items of equipments were mounted on elastic supports which rests on uncoupled blocks and suspended platforms in order to reduce generated noise further.

The Scorpene is powered by two 1,250kW diesel engines and also a 2,900kW capacity batteries. However The RMN's Scorpenes were not equipped with AIPS (Air-Independent Propulsion System) which allows a greater submerged endurance and reduced vulnerability. However the AIPS module can be inserted at a later, if required (perhaps during SLEP?)

For their 'teeth', the Scorpenes are equipped with six 533mm torpedo tubes with weapons capacity of 18 torpedoes and/or missiles. The RMN chose Whitehead Black Shark wire-guided torpedoes from Italy and sub-launched SM39 Exocet anti ship missiles from MBDA. Alternatively, 30 mines can be deployed.

Although not much was written about it, it can be safely assumed that the Scorpenes are equipped with passive sonar, active sonar, flank-array, high-resolution sonar for mine and obstacle avoidance and towed array sonar.

During construction, the RMN conducted a competition for naming the submarines. A large number of entries were received and eventually the name chosen were KD Tunku Abdul Rahman (hull #1) and KD Tun Razak (Hull #2) after the first two Prime Ministers of Malaysia.

KD Tunku Abdul Rahman was lauched at DCNS Cherbourg, France in October 2007 and handed over to the RMN in January 2009. On July 11 2009 she started her journey home, making port visits at Jeddah, Djibouti and Cochin and finally arrived at Port Kelang on September 3 2009. KD Tun Razak was launched at Navantia, Cartagena, Spain in October 2008. She left Spain on April 30th 2010 and arrived in Lumut on July 3, 2010. Both boats are now based at Teluk Sepaggar Naval Base in Sabah.

Now, some controversies have been linked with the purchase the Perdana Menteris but I will only discuss the technical issues here. A newspaper report stated that KD Tunku Abdul Rahman was unable to submerge on her way to Sabah. Since then news acquired a life of its own with more juicy stories such as it has been laid off for months and that the 'dolphins' would soon lose their ratings for being landed so long. Yeah, I know it's all because of the initial, politically-motivated controversy plus the (I'm sorry to say) general IGNORANCE (perhaps even STUPIDITY) of certain people in our society.

As it turns out, it is just a minor defect. In fact, such initial defects is the norm with military equipments whatever their nationality. In fact such idiots totally forget that even we purchase new vehicles, we are faced with such minor defects be it a Proton or a Merc. As for inability to submerge, the Chief of the Navy rightly points out that KD TAR spends 31 out of 43 days submerged during her voyage from France to Malaysia. What I understood was that some widget need to be replaced or adjusted to suit the tropical waters, that's it!

As for being out of service for three months, the Admiral mentioned that it was actually the maintenance period for the submarine. Scheduled maintenance of ships are not like motor vehicle maintenace which at most took only a whole day! That is also the reason why there should be at least an x number of ships bought by a navy in order to make sure that a certain number are in service whilst a number of orders are down for maintenance, whether for short or long term.

As for the 'dolphins' losing their ratings, it can be rebutted that, in the first place, the submarine IS operational. Furthermore, even if the sub is not, they can still maintain their proficiency using the simulators available. I'm not sure whether RMN uses the 'Gold' and 'Blue' crew system as practiced by the US Navy which allows maximum submarine operating time. (The Gold and Blue crews are at sea every 90 days in turns, unless the boat is down for would they lose their ratings when they are land bound for 90 days?)

Finally the boats are considered strategic assets and should not be discussed openly. Openness has it limits. Sure, if the Oppsoition wants to question the transparecy of the purchase, go ahead, but do not blindly hantam and give erroneous facts just to increase your popularity. The RSN did have problem with their Archer (Västergötland) class SSK. Again it was a minor one and most importantly not blown out of all proportions!

And finally just to show their complete ignorance, some commentators can' t even differentiate between the Scorpene and the ex-Dutch Navy Zwaardvis class SSK, which were berthed, in a sorry state admittedly, at Lumut. The Zwaardvis were originally offered to the RMN but rejected outright. Oh, they can't even differentiate between KD TAR and TR, just 'kapalselam Malaysia'. Furthermore, many readers' comments at certain blogs makes me rates them somewhere between 'idiot' and 'moron'!


mumuchi said...

well said bro...bila nak join mymil ni ;0)

L-kick said...

terbaik la bro..........