Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s first submarine, a European-made Scorpene delivered last September, has developed problems that make it unfit for diving, the defence minister said Thursday.
The KD Tunku Abdul Rahman sailed into a grand reception last year as the first of two commissioned from French contractor DCNS and Spain’s Navantia for a total of 3.4 billion ringgit (961 million dollars).
Named after the country’s first prime minister, it was hailed as an important acquisition despite opposition allegations of corruption in the deal.
“The submarine can still dive but when we detected the defects, we were advised that it should not dive,” Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters.
“The (parts found with) defects are still under warranty so the supplier and contractor are repairing them,” he added.
Navy chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar said a problem first emerged in the submarine’s cooling system last December. After being fixed, another defect was identified in a different system last month.
“We hope it can dive again after February 18 so we can carry out the tropical water trials,” Abdul Aziz told reporters.
The navy chief said the second submarine, the KD Tun Razak which is named after the nation’s second premier, is expected to arrive from France on May 31. It was originally scheduled for delivery in late 2009.
The two submarines have attracted controversy since the deal was signed in 2002.
Malaysia’s opposition claims that a 540-million-ringgit commission was paid to a close associate of Prime Minister Najib Razak in brokering the contract.
Najib has denied there was any corruption in the deal, which was made when he was defence minister.