Thursday, February 10, 2011

OPVs, LCS and What Have You

First of all, I’d like to express my thanks to Navy Chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar for taking the effort to make clarifications to my queries raised in my earlier press statement which were directed to the Minister of Defence.

1. Points of fact – OPV or LCS?

a. My statement on 7 Feb 2011 on this issue was responding to the statement made by Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on the government agreeing to allocate RM6 billion to build 6 “patrol vessels” as reported by Bernama on 5 Feb 2011.

It was only in yesterday’s press conference that Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar or the Navy or Ministry of Defence for that matter, made reference to the specific term “Littoral Combat Ships” or LCS.

I have been accused in the Internet, on blogs and twitter that I can’t tell the difference between a “sampan” from a “speedboat”. Perhaps these criticisms, if valid, should be directed at the Minister of Defence himself, unless of course, Bernama misquoted the Minister.

b. However, more amusingly perhaps, Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) are a broad class of ships above 700 to approximately 2000 tons used for mixed purposes such as fishery protection, pollution control, fire-fighting, search and rescue, humanitarian operations, EEZ patrol and wartime deployment. Such ships built to wartime requirements are sometimes referred to as “corvettes”.

LCS on the other hand specialised variant of combat ship designed in the United States, which is arguably the “high-end” model of OPVs. The USS Independence, which is 1 of the 2 LCS in the US is 127m long, weighs 2,176 tons and has a speed of 44 knots. Our current Kedah-class OPV for example, is 91m long, weighs 1,650 tons and has a speed of 22 knots. “Littoral”, in layman’s term means “close to shore”.

Hence the question isn’t “OPV or LCS?” – but “what type of OPV is the navy buying?”.

2. Point of fact – The Price of Ships

a. Questions were raised as to the accuracy and relevance of the prices of OPVs which I had quoted in my earlier statement. For example, again according to Bernama, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar claimed that my figure of NZ$90 million (RM210m) for each of New Zealand’s recent purchase 2 OPVs was incorrect as the New Zealand’s Ministry of Defence website claimed the cost isn’t finalised.

Attempting to split hairs over the NZ$90 million figure is however a pointless exercise. The figure is an estimate as at December 2010 for ships which have already been delivered and commissioned in the middle of 2010. Hence even if one were to allow for a generous 10% variance, it’ll still be priced only at RM231m, and a far cry from the Royal Malaysian Navy’s RM1 billion per ship.

My point isn’t whether New Zealand bought its ships for NZ$90m or NZ$99m. My point was that the price range for different types of OPVs is huge, from US$34m (RM103m) to US$300m (RM913m) or more. Hence the question I asked per my earlier statement:

“The obvious question then, is whether the Government is procuring the construction of OPVs nearer the Irish Roisin class or closer to the US LCS? And if we are indeed making an order for the best-in-class LCS type ships capable of fighting a full scale surface and submarine warfare, does Boustead even have the skills and technology to make these ships?”

3. The Point

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a military man nor am I as knowledgeable as many of the military analysts and self-confessed military enthusiasts out there. I’ll also raise my hands to say that I’ll have tonnes to learn from our Chief Admiral in terms of military expertise. At the same time, I’m also not questioning the Navy’s need for additional ships.

But the indisputable fact of the matter is the price gap between the lower-end OPVs and the top-of-its-class models is huge. Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi’s statement of a RM6 billion purchase of 6 patrol vessels was vague and required detailed clarification. And it is our duty as parliamentarians to ensure that the tax-payers’ receive the value for their buck.

From the reports on the Chief Admiral’s press conference yesterday, I’ve to hear the additional specifications which make our ships being priced substantially higher than that paid for by New Zealand. For example, will our “LCS” be in the similar class as the American “LCS” in terms of armament for surface to air, surface to surface and anti-submarine warfare? The features of these ships such as the types and quantities of guns, electronic warfare and decoys, speed, sensors and processing systems are no secrets and are widely published in various defence magazines.

Hence, we MPs from Pakatan Rakyat are more than happy to accept the gracious offer by the Chief Admiral to meet him in person and be “educated” on the RM6 billion transaction.


Anonymous said...

I wonder what would have happened if you did not ask the questions in the first place......we would have as usual paid class A prices for class C products.

keep you the good work and keep us posted on the outcome of your meeting.

weechookeong said...

pua... lu dengar menteri cakap saja lu sudah buata rtikel kasi bantai.. lu kaji la dulu. lu tanya minister, lu tanya orang navy, lu tanya marhalim, lu tanya expert.. kemudian lu baru kasi tulis... baru lu boleh kata lu sudah kaji dan komen lu adalah hasil nya..

bukan lu baca saja lu mau kasi taruk and cari info dalam internet semua yang kasi lu point mau taruk gomen...

tulis pasal military mau kasi professional, tapi lu tulis pasal politik punya angle.. lu tak ikhlas.. in the end lu banyak bodoh la...

lu punya explanation ini kali pon serupa macam lu tada tulis.. weak excuses saja... lain kali gua ingat lu lagi baik tulis pasal anak anak yatim.. ada bagus jugak...

Anonymous said...

When the Defense Policy not even table at the parliament to be debated among the MPs, then the country can expect this kind of surprises by the government. Procurement base on what? For what and is it in the strategic development plan for the nation defense?
Opportunity costs don't bother as long as someone benefit! The generals and the minister are brothers in arm and lu tolong gua and gua tolong lu and that is the order of the day.
Wither... the nation defense.

Anonymous said...

OPV type is Toyota Camry 2.0 stupig YB....

rudy said...

I guess your favourite all time sport is taichi..

Anonymous said...


Just as in the case of Najib's purchase of the French submarines (can they remain submerged these days?), you need to factor in a MYR 400-500 million per vessel intermediary brokerage fee that the Malaysian government will be paying to one of Najib's cronies to ensure that the vessels can float.

Anonymous said...

Question: "I wonder what would have happened if you did not ask the questions in the first place....."
Answer:"My best guess is that no one will think him as an idiot trying to show off his stupidity."

I'm sorry to say, but you got this one really wrong..........

Collin Ng said...

YB, I am a Singaporean and I must say I am impressed with your presentation of the facts and the rebuttal though you are not a military man per se.

Observer said...

To weechookeong & Anony@7.39am,
Your comments make yourself look stupid! Obviously you are not rational person who cant see the rationals in Tony's comment.
Our country will be doomed with you flers around.

Anonymous said...

Salam YB,

Keep up the good work. Don't get disheartened by a few "paid" commentators above.

They are paid 7k-12k/mth for no real economic value-added job. That's why they can afford to spend time for the above. They worried that your good citizen responsibility will end they and their masters "easy cari makan" job.

Thank you.

Cawan Lama

Anonymous said...

Just speak to ex-Armed Forces personnel. They will be able to tell you how the government paid for high-end-priced equipment and obtained obsolete ones which are now just lying around.

Anonymous said...

the first artikel yang telah lu tulis....telah menampakkan obses u terhadap nak kumpul seberapa banyak contoh 'angka' untuk condem gomen, sampai lu sudah lupa untuk buat sedikit study pasal the ship kategory...itu pasal la lu sudah nampak bodoh. sampai bilapun orang jumpa lu org akan ingat ooooo..

military expertisepun sudah gelak baca lu punya artikel

weechookeong said...

observer... i have to be stupid to deal with stupid YB with an ulterior motive..

and you too are stupid to believe him.. and now I am doubly stupid for responding to you..

Anonymous said...

I read the Star where it was reported that you had conveniently excused yourself by stating that the comment and the FIGURES were meant to provoke only a reply. How irresponsible!!!!

Any Tom, Dick and Harry can now pluck figures, put them in a cogent way and use his authority as a YB to impress naive readers.

Clearly your presentation of the facts suggests that you meant to sway your readers towards your brand of politics.

I now begin to think that it was clear to you at the point of you writing, that the facts you presented were intended to sway opinion that there was malice in the transaction, when none could be proven. This is classic tendentious writing.You were clearly begging for political sympathy.

You have also created a precedent. From now on, anyone can give hard numbers...cold hard numbers and excuse himself by saying that these are just fudges meant to provoke a reply. How convenient!!!

I have great expectations of you given your profile, but this is clearly irresponsible, shrewd and downright arrogant. Maybe taichi is the right word.

Anonymous said...

Tony, you must be doing something really, REALLY right to attract so many highly paid cybertroopers to your blog!
Judging from the amount of venom they spewed out, they must think that they are worth every penny!
What they do not realise is that they are doing their masters a great disservice because nowadays, Malaysians are widely read and know what's what! These so called "writers" are making a parody of both themselves and their masters.
What jokers!!

Anonymous said...

What a shame, what a shame
'Cause we're not all the same
What a shame, what a shame
'Cause we're not all the same
What a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shameWhat a shame, what a shame

Anonymous said...

Malaysian readers, especially of Internet news are not naive any more.
Only so-called paid cybertroopers who post here are naive or made themselves naive - out of necessity - for money
Don't they know why the governments of Algeria, Tunisia, Eygpt, Yemen and others have fallen or are tottering on the brink of falling?
Because of the simple reason that the people have waken up.
After decades of slumber, they have waken up!!
And the result is earth shattering!
To say the least.
So, let the above be an object lesson to all corrupt power grabbers and their cohorts.
Their days are numbered!

Api said...

What I'm surprised at is that the specs that go with the pricetag was revealed by Boustead (in general) during the industry briefing held at Marina Island, Lumut, the occasion where the YB Defense Minister announced the 6 billion. So, how come the argument now is the type of ship is not known? Or is it the attendee sent by the DAP cabut from the briefing immmediately after the Defense Minister's speech and didn't stay for the Boustead briefing?

Anonymous said...

opv dgn konsep lcs la..masih sebuah opv tetapi dengan kemanpuan untuk bertemput seperti sebuah lcs...kalu nak nilai sesebuah kapal tgk pada persenjataan die...bkn pada berat or panjang...bile kita tgk senjata die baru kita bleh agak apa operasi and tugas die nnt....malaysia letak nama sebagai opv sebab xnk provoke negara jiran kalu kita kata nak bina lcs or korvet banyak2 mau x melompat jiran2 kita...xpayah la nak pertikaikan penbelian aset pertahanan...untuk keselamatan kita jugak

Anonymous said...

good job tony,your duty to question the gomen on how they spent our tax money.We should be getting a good bang for our buck.Let's not allow these goons to hide behind "national defence secrets" and "techinical spec mumbo-jumbo" to make a quick billion bucks.Accountability and transparency.Ignorant and dumb people will just accept everything the BN gomen tell them,shallowing line,hook and sinker.

Anonymous said...

anon 6.30am

ya after 500m, sub has difficulty sinking. now, i hope it just float without difficulty.

btw, where are the so=called independent MPs?

Anonymous said...

YB Taichi .. heheh

Anonymous said...

u are so weird..

you said:

"Hence, we MPs from Pakatan Rakyat are more than happy to accept the gracious offer by the Chief Admiral to meet him in person and be “educated” on the RM6 billion transaction."

well...meeting with the Chief Admiral should be the first thing you should do before you make any statements about the thing that u don't know much...

nuff said..

Anonymous said...

LOL at the various cybertroopers here playing Taichii with Tony Pua without facts figures & comparison.

I shall join in and fight the 'mass' Anonymous to defend TP without facts and figures too:
"Heiya! Come I can take all of you on with your comments and still be able to see the 6-OPV's-6-billions sink into the ocean!!!"
*waves and throws my annual income tax onto cybertroopers faces!

yellowkingdom said...

A contract for a batch of 6 vessels was signed in 2000. Terms of the contract specified the local shipyard company PSC-Naval Dockyard as the prime contractor, the German Naval Group (GNG) as the main sub-contactor. First 2 ships were to be built in Germany, with the remainder to be built by PSC-Naval Dockyard in Malaysia. PSC Naval Dockyard also signed a RM 24 billion contract to build 27 offshore patrol vessels over 10 years for the RMN, together with foreign partners led by Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.

A contract for a further 6 improved vessels or the "Second Generation Patrol Vessels" or "SGPVs" is projected under the Tenth Malaysia Plan[2].

Read more:

Anonymous said...


I m not sure if u are good with military equipment , as i know that USA doesnt actually tell their senate of what they buy only some military assests is reveal to the senate , for example in history , USA have revealed that they have hide a lot of their high tech assests like the stealth fighter , the b2 bomber and the their abraham tank which is only shown to the world after 10 or sometime 20 years after its development and deployment to the field , so a country military assets is best kept as a secret not only form its own people and also from others neighbouring country in any case if it will enrage them into a military assests race.
Plus u need to see the map of MALAYSIA as nearly about 70% of MALAYSIA is coastal line and u need some high tech OPV and weaponary to protect the country as some of the ships are getting old and the new generation of soldier need to be protected with better equipment not only that is to detter any kind of unfriendly activities like pirate and also to protect MALAYSIA overseas assets from harm and also some uninvited issues.
Try to remember what happened when MALAYSIA started the country was having a confrontation with our neighbour country INDONESIA which landed his troops into MALAYSIA without any oppositions and early detection so with new kind of ships , it been a hope of country to better protect our shorelines,
i hope that u try to reconsider the nations security. i know u are a good MP but sometime, some issues is better only to be discuss in the parlimen and dont bring out the issues to the public cause this will not only trigger unrest among the people but also it can trigger other country into bad viewing MALAYSIA . If you dont mind me saying , MALAYSIA is where most of us is born , i am one of the citizen that hope that MALAYSIA will continue to flourish even when i m no longer in this world .

Anonymous said...

Continue to pursue this subject of OPVs. The Defence Minister and Chief of Navy have to account for this figure of RM 6 billion, just to ensure that it is not pluck from the air. the cost can be broken down into sections such as main hull/ main propulsion eqmt/navigation system/main guns/missiles/anti sub depth charges/other fittings etc. How sophisticated do we want our ships to be...