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China launches Malaysia’s third littoral mission ship

Malaysian littoral mission ship
Photo: Royal Malaysian Navy

Chinese shipbuilder China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) has launched the third littoral mission ship (LMS) for the Royal Malaysian Navy.

The October 28 launch precedes further outfitting work and a series of trials that will last until September 2021, when the vessel is scheduled to be handed over to Malaysia.

The launch of the third of four units comes after the first vessel LMS Keris was handed over in December 2019. Keris was launched in April 2019.

CSIC is building the four ships under an RM1.17 billion (approx. US$265 million) contract from March 2017. Original plans envisioned the first two LMS being built and delivered in China in 2019 and 2020, while the other two vessels were to be built in Malaysia by Boustead Naval Shipyard. Malaysia subsequently revised the plan to accelerate delivery by having all four ships built in China. The final ship is set for a November 2020 launch following a delay caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 68.8-meter vessels are part of the Malaysian Navy’s transformation plan that intends to bring down the number of ship classes operated by the navy from 15 to 5. In addition to the Keris-class LMS, the five new classes will incorporate Scorpène-class submarines, Maharaja Lela-class frigates, Kedah-class offshore patrol vessels and a Multi Role Support Ship.