First Navy LCS wasn't even ready at the time of its launch, PAC probe finds

KUALA LUMPUR: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today disclosed that the Royal Malaysian Navy's (RMN) first state-of-the-art Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) was not yet completed when it was launched in 2017.

PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh said the committee's proceedings found that LCS 1 was less than 44 per cent complete at the time of the launch.

He said according to witness accounts, the naming and launch of the LCS was only to provide the impression to the public that the vessel was already completed.

"During the proceedings, PAC had asked the witness what exactly the launch ceremony was for and whether the ceremony was meant to give a perception or an image that this ship was ready.

"Based on the pictures, the vessel looked nice when it was in fact not even completed.

"The explanation given by the contractor and Mindef (the Defence Ministry) was that the ceremony was actually to launch (the ship) into the water for a balance test, whether it was okay.

"Then (after the ceremony) the ship was returned to the dockyard to continue construction.

"The launching and naming ceremony is apparently a tradition practised by Mindef," he said, adding that the PAC raised a question about the launch ceremony as it seemed to have given an impression that the vessel was already completed.

In August 2017, the ship was named Kapal Diraja (KD) Maharaja Lela during its launch at the Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) wharf at the RMN Lumut Naval Base, Perak.

The naming and launch ceremony for the ship, valued at RM1.5 billion, was graced by Perak Sultanah Tuanku Zara Salim and witnessed by Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah.

It was the first of the six LCSs worth RM9 billion built by BNS to be launched into the waters.

Regarding the mast installed on LCS1 during the ceremony for beautification purposes,

Wong said the witness claimed that RM400,000 was spent on that alone.

He said that the mast was just a "mock up" and not a part of LCS1.

This, said the witness, was done so that the ship would look "prettier" during the launch.

"The ceremony was just for show. Also note that the mast was indeed made by BNS, which is not part of the LCS. It was later removed and brought into the dockyard for further work," he said.

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