Ex-navy chief rubbishes claims that 2017 LCS launch was to deceive public

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Not a “dummy”, but an incomplete ship.

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The littoral combat ship (LCS) that was launched in August 2017 was not a “dummy”, said former navy chief Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin.

In a statement today, Ahmad Kamarulzaman – who was the navy chief between May 2016 and November 2018 – said the ship was incomplete.

“At the time, LCS1 was under construction. It was not a dummy. This includes the ‘mast’ which was (now) rumoured to be fake,” he said.

Ahmad Kamarulzaman said he was compelled to clarify matters because of the widespread rumours that the launch by Raja Permaisuri of Perak Tuanku Zara Salim was a ruse to deceive the public.

Scrutiny over whether the Raja Permaisuri had launched a “fake” ship emerged after the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) established that the ship was only 44 percent complete as of this year.

Contractor Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS), under questioning by the PAC, conceded that the company had put up a “temporary” mast to make the ship look good for the launch before taking it down again.

“After the ship was launched, we removed the mast. It was to create an impression. It is not an industry requirement…or contractual requirement to do so,” said BNS’ director of the LCS programme Azhar Jumaat.

Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation Bhd (BHIC) CEO Sharifuddin Md Zaini Al-Manaf went a step further to state that the temporary mast was a “waste of money”.

“It is just for show. That is my view. There is no point, and it did not serve any purpose. It looks nice, and it may give an impression that the vessel is more beautiful than what it was meant to be. It was a cost that BNS had to absorb,” Sharifuddin said.

The cost of the mast was RM400,000 and was kept in a store when the duo testified before the PAC in December 2021.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Kamarulzaman said it was a normal practice for navies all over the world to launch their ships even before they were completed.

He said the navy had done so several times and cited the launch of an incomplete naval ship by France’s Naval Group for the UAE government.

This practice, said Ahmad Kamarulzaman, had been explained in detail to the PAC.

“Therefore, allegations that the launch of the LCS in Lumut in 2017 was a sham meant to deceive the public were untrue,” said Ahmad Kamarulzaman. – Malaysiakini