Monday, February 20, 2006

Dutch Submarines Stranded In Lumut To Be Sold As Scraps

February 19, 2006

Zwaardvis and Tijgerhaai side by side in Lumut (Malaysia), Dec 2000.
(Photo: © RDM Submarines).

KUALA LUMPUR -- Tijgerhaai and Zwaardis, both Dutch submarines, that was once offered for sale to Malaysia will end up in the scrapyard.

The diesel-powered submarines were stranded in Lumut for the last five years.

PSC Naval Dockyard's Submarine Department Head Muhammad Razalina said the submarines could no longer move unless major repairs are done on the engines.

"A tender to dismantle the submarines will be called by the Dutch government soon. We will get the tender as they are in Lumut," he told Bernama.

The owner of the submarines, Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij (RDM), had accumulated debts as it had to pay PSC for the safekeeping service and the rental of the wharf for the last five years, he said.

The debt had been settled by the Dutch government, he said.

Tijgerhaai and Zwaardis came to Lumut five years ago after RDM enlisted PSC as its partner in a bid to sell them to Malaysia for training purpose.

The same tactic was done by German Naval Group (GNG) who collaborated with PSC to win a tender to build 27 patrol vessels. The tactic was successful as the tie-up provided GNG the upperhand over its competitor from Australia.

Many were convinced that RDM would secure the contract as the submarines were already in Malaysia.

Many also thought that the vessels in fact had been purchased by the Royal Malaysian Navy.

Among RDM's competitors in the submarine project were Kockums whose submarines are used by Singapore, DCN International and another German company that offered Type 209 submarines.

DCN International won the bid. It is now building two diesel-powered Scorpene submarines and an Agosta-class submarine for training.

When RDM lost the bid, Tijgerhaai dan Zwaardis were stranded. The bills to safekeep the vessels and to allow them to stay in Lumut have accumulated into millions of American dollars.

According to the Dutch press, the Dutch government was concerned that the submarines could be seized by the Malaysian authorities because RDM owed a big sum to PSC.

They were also worried if their technology used in the submarines were to slip into the hands of a foreign party.

RDM could not do anything because of its weak financial position.

Not only Malaysia that had refused to buy, Egypt and Indonesia also declined the 40-year-old submarines.

Finally, the Dutch government intervened and forked out its own money to pay RDM's debts and the cost of dismantling the submarines that is expected to be carried out in Lumut this year.



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