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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Malaysian Scorpene submarine develops snags

Kuala Lumpur: Just five months after induction, Malaysia's first submarine, a French made Scorpene has developed serious problems, raising question mark over India's acquisition of the same deepwater warfare machine.

The defects in the submarine KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, named after country's first Prime Minister, have delayed navy's tropical water trials which had to be stopped as the vessel was found unfit for diving, Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters.

The submarine, the first of the two, was purchased for a staggering 3.4 billion ringgits (USD 961 million). The defects forced a three-month delay in the completion of the trials with the manufacturer DCNS (France) having to extend the warranty.

Navy Chief Abdul Aziz Jafar told Malay Mail that the problems have emerged in the submarine's cooling system last December and then again last month.

"We hope the manufacturer rectify the faults so we can complete the trials," he said. The Malaysian Navy is expecting the delivery of its second submarine by May.

The acquisition of the submarine has been embroiled in controversy with opposition claiming that huge kickbacks had been paid to the ruling party leaders.

In a USD 3 billion deal signed in 2005, India is to manufacture six Scorpene submarines under licence and technology transfer at Mazagoan docks Mumbai.

The first of these submarines was expected to roll out by 2012, but the delay in technology transfer has setback the project by more than a year.

According to Malay Mail the contractual completion of the Malaysian trials was to be completed by January 25, but now DCNS has agreed to rectify all the faults so that the trials can be completed by May.