Thursday, October 8, 2009

KD Seri Inderapura to be replaced

PORT DICKSON: The government proposes to buy a new landing craft to replace the Royal Malaysian Navy’S biggest landing craft, the KD Seri Inderapura, which was destroyed by fire while berthed at the naval base jetty in Lumut Thursday morning.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the 40-year-old vessel could not be used anymore due to be being burnt for the second time, the first being in 2002.

“I have contacted the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) just now, he is abroad, I believe that the PM who had been defence minister for 14 years would ask to look for an alternative to replace the ship, however it is difficult to look for one as it was difficult to get one on the market now.

“If we have a need it should be done through a open tender, to refurbish it would take 36 to 60 months, to me the ship cannot be used, so a replacement has to be found,” Zahid told reporters at a news conference here Thursday.

He said the ship that was commissioned in 1995 caught fire at 6.23am and the flames were only fully doused at 2.15pm by the navy fire squad with help from the Manjung Fire Station, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and tug boats.

Zahid said at the time of the incident there were 77 personnel, including six officers and 22 trainees, on duty. However, no loss of life was reported.

“Thankfully the incident happened at base, it would have been unfortunate if it had happened at sea, it would have been difficult to put out the fire,” he said.

According to him, initial reports said the fire may have been caused by a short circuit and it had nothing to do with sabotage.

“No sabotage, nothing to do with the Benteng Demokrasi Rakyat (Bendera) group that reportedly planned to attack Malaysia,” said Zahid.

He also rejected allegations that the KD Seri Inderapura was not well maintained, as the navy was always at a heightened state of readiness and technical and mechanical inspections were always given importance.

Zahid said a detailed investigation was being done by an investigation board that was set up to identify the cause of the fire.

He said the ship from the LST (Landing Ship Tank) Squadron was to have sailed to Sabah and Sarawak to deliver logistics supplies to the Kota Kinabalu Sea Region 2 Headquarters in Teluk Sepanggar.

A large portion of the goods stacked on the deck were destroyed, he said, but the operation to deliver the supplies will not be scrapped.

“We will send the supplies a little later as we have another landing ship, the KD Seri Indera Sakti,” Zahid said.

The KD Seri Inderapura that has a crew of 324 was built in 1970 and was used by the United States Navy after it was commissioned under the Newport Class as the USS Spartanburg County.

On Dec 16, 1994, the ship was handed over to the navy and named KD Seri Inderapura and she served the nation for 15 years

*Taken from The Star Online.

*To know about KD Seri Inderapura (previously known as USS Spartanburg County), click here

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