First littoral combat ship ready in ‘a year or two’, says Hisham

(FMT) – The first littoral combat ship (LCS) built by Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS) will be completed in “at least a year or two”, says defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

He said the ministry will ensure that the project will be completed at the set time, adding that updates on the warships will be given in stages to the Cabinet and the general public.

The senior minister acknowledged that there were “weaknesses” on his ministry’s end over the project and that this had caused many to be disappointed.

The first ship in the class, the Maharajalela, was launched in 2017 and was scheduled for delivery in 2019, with five others in stages by this month.

“However, we must move forward by seeking justice, ensuring that these ships can be delivered to the navy, and preventing (the issues that have surfaced) from recurring,” he said in Dewan Negara.

He was replying to Razali Idris, who asked for a timeline for the completion and delivery of the ships, since the defence ministry was going ahead with the project.

On Thursday, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the ministry and BNS had ignored the navy’s views on the design of the LCS.

PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh said not a single ship had been completed although Putrajaya had spent RM6 billion on the project, which was given to BNS through direct negotiations.

He also said the navy should have received five of the ships by this month.

On Friday, Hishammuddin fended off opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s call for the RM9 billion project to be cancelled, saying the ships were necessary to meet the navy’s needs.