Littoral combat ship construction only one per cent behind schedule, Khaled tells Dewan Rakyat

KUALA LUMPUR: The delay in the Royal Malaysian Navy's littoral combat ship (LCS) construction is only behind by one per cent of its target, said Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.

The defence minister said the progress of the LCS1 as of January 2024 was at 67.57 per cent, while the target was at 68.77 per cent.

"But the Lumut Naval Shipyard is working to ensure they can mitigate the challenges. We expect that by June, the project will be back on track. In November, the LCS1 will be 85 per cent completed.

"When we achieve 85 per cent completion, the LCS will undergo two tests, namely the harbour acceptance test and the sea acceptance trial, which will take two years.

"We are expecting the first LCS to be certified in 2026," he said at a press conference after his winding-up speech on the motion of thanks for the royal address in Parliament today.

Khaled said by the end of this year, LCS2 and LCS3 would have completed their construction stage with 78.17 and 61.48 per cent progress respectively.

The LCS4 and LCS5, meanwhile, are targeted to be 53.40 per cent and 44.11 per cent complete by year-end.

On Feb 29, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) expressed its concern over the continued delays in the construction of the LCS.

During its follow-up action proceedings, the committee was informed that the project was 88 days behind schedule.

Khaled however clarified that the 88-day delay was divided into two aspects - 22 days for design, and 56 days for construction.

"So cumulatively, it is 88 days, not that it is delayed by 88 days."

In December 2011, the Defence Ministry awarded an RM9 billion contract to Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd for six ships as part of the Royal Malaysian Navy's fleet renewal plan.

A contract was eventually signed in July 2014. BNS would build the six ships with the help of the French naval company DCNS, beginning in 2015.

The first vessel was slated to be delivered by April 2019, and the five ships were to be handed over in six-month intervals until 2023.

However, none had been delivered.

In 2018, the short-lived Pakatan Harapan government formed a special committee to investigate the contract, which eventually discovered that over RM6 billion had already been paid out from the total contract amount even before a single vessel was delivered.

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