Saturday, July 10, 2010


1. Lately there has been a spate of articles in the media reporting the ‘status’ of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) submarines. Two reports in particular highlighted purported major defects in the nation’s first submarine, the KD TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN (KD TAR) that supposedly rendered it unable to dive. The RMN however regrets that these reports have been highly inaccurate and misleading resulting in the public being grossly misinformed of the actual status of the KD TAR. Based on the articles published in the media as mentioned above, the RMN wishes to state the following:

a. Prior to arriving safely in Kota Kinabalu on 17 September 2009, the KD TAR had sailed approximately 8300 nautical miles with 31 days submerged out of the 43 days spent at sea. As such, the question of “Initial Operational Capability” or being “declared fully operational” does not arise as the submarine would not have completed the journey safely if it was not fully operational.

b. At no point in time from the date of Physical Handover has the safety of both submarines and their crews been compromised by any defects on board. A submarine is constantly subjected to, and operates in an extremely hostile and harsh environment which necessitates constant monitoring, maintenance and rectification of the systems and equipment on board. Inadvertently, as in any submarine in the world, some equipment or systems can and will fail or be degraded in performance. The KD TAR did encounter some defects and shortcomings but at no time did any of these defects endanger the crew or submarine to the extent of rendering it unable to dive, as claimed by the media. The RMN has developed a very rigorous and thorough safety inspection, appraisal and verification process, similar or even more stringent to that of aircraft safety process, to certify a submarine ‘safe- to-dive’ before it is allowed to embark on any mission.

c. Similar to an aircraft, any submarine will have to undergo compulsory scheduled maintenance after a specified period of operations. These scheduled maintenance periods have been planned in advance to fit into the operational cycle of the submarines. The KD TAR has undergone, as scheduled, several of those maintenance periods since returning to Malaysia. Thus the statement “In February, The Paper That Cares reported that KD Tunku Abdul Rahman suffered a technical defect that prevented it from diving for three months.” is untrue as the KD TAR had in fact been undergoing its scheduled maintenance period during that period.

d. The statement: “Since then, the submarine has remained at the naval base unfixed.”, is also irresponsible and conjures up an image of the submarine lying idle at the the naval base, unattended to and crippled. The fact is that the submarines, like all RMN surface ships, are manned 24 hours a day, every day and all defects, however small or insignificant are acted on immediately. However, in this case the statement is untrue as the KD TAR has in fact been operational, a fact that the Chief of Defence Forces can attest to when he dived with the submarine during her operations in the South China Sea on 5 – 8 March 2010. Lately, the submarine had also successfully carried out a test firing of a mock-up missile during operations in the South China Sea.

e. The statement by the same paper that “the arrival of the second Perdana Menteri-class submarine KD TUN RAZAK, on July 2, was a godsend for the crew of its sister ship, KD TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN. The crew is expected to take over the second submarine during its mandatory tropical water trial.” is false as the crew of any vessel, be it a surface ship and more so a submarine, cannot and do not simply ‘take over’ another vessel. The question of the the KD TAR crew losing their submariners rating if they remained on land as claimed by the article does not arise because, as has been explained above, the submarine has remained operational. However, in the unlikely event that the submarine is indeed rendered unoperational for an extended period, the crew will still be able to maintain currency via simulator training which is available at the Submarine Training Centre at the Submarine Base.

4. No submarine operating country in the world discusses the operational status of its submarines which are deemed highly sensitive strategic weapons in the media. It is disheartening to note that the author had not acted responsibly to make any effort to verify the facts before publishing them. Repeatedly publishing erroneous and misleading reports would not only tarnish the image of the RMN’s Submarine Force but also exposes the country’s defence establishment to ridicule. As such, the RMN has reluctantly been forced to rebut publicly the irresponsible misinformation and statements made in the above mentioned articles.

5. The RMN also views very seriously the fact that “defence industry sources” have divulged, albeit erroneously, information that are highly classified to the press. The RMN will initiate a thorough investigation to identify these sources, as these irresponsible elements could also be divulging information to other unauthorised parties.

6. The RMN has and will always be committed to carrying out its responsibilities professionally, efficiently and effectively to ensure that the safety of its submarines and their crew are not compromised in any way at all times. The RMN has always appreciated and respected the role of the media and will always continue to extend its fullest cooperation to the media whom it regards as an important and integral stakeholder in the development of the nation. However the RMN hopes that members of the media will act in a more responsible and professional manner to verify their facts and figures before publishing them, especially when it involves the nation’s security.


Chief of Navy