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Malaysia’s Chief of Defence Forces Dives with RMN Submarine in the Spratly Islands

The statement from the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) mentioned that the Chief of Defence Forces' submarine diving program with the RMN submarine, KD Tunku Abdul Rahman was conducted shortly after his arrival at the RMN's LIMA Station on Layang-Layang Island, which is a part of the contentious Spratly Islands.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) – Malaysia’s Chief of Defence Forces, Tan Sri Mohammad Ab Rahman, recently participated in a submarine diving program with the Royal Malaysian Navy’s French-made “Scorpene” submarine,  KD Tunku Abdul Rahman.

According to a statement released by the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) on social media, the submarine diving program was part of his official two-day visit to the TLDM Base in Kota Kinabalu.

This visit marked his first official visit to the RMN service since assuming the position of Chief of Defence Forces on September 7th.

According to the RMN statement, the submarine diving program took place shortly after his arrival at the RMN’s LIMA Station on Layang-Layang Island, which is part of the Spratly Islands.

He was transported to the LIMA Station via a RMN AW139 helicopter.

(Credit RMN)


During the submarine diving program, he received a briefing on submarine operations from the Chief of Submarine Forces, First Admiral Mohd Razib Tahir.

 Memories of participating in the diving program with TLDM assets were also captured through a “Photo Exercise” (PHOTEX), as mentioned in the statement.

Accompanying him in the submarine program with KD Tunku Abdul Rahman were the Chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy, Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Ayob and the Eastern Fleet Commander, Rear Admiral Datuk Muhammad Ruzelme Ahmad.

As announced in the 2024 Budget presentation last month, both of the country’s submarines, KD Tunku Abdul Rahman and KD Tun Abdul Razak, will undergo “refit” work.

The TLDM has owned both Scorpene submarines since 2009, built by DCNS (now Naval Group) and Navantia, capable of launching heavy torpedoes like the “Black Shark” and anti-ship guided missiles, “SM39 Exocet.”

(Credit RMN)


Malaysia is the only country in Southeast Asia that uses Scorpene-class submarines.

Following the submarine program, the Chief of Defence Forces also visited the Squadron 601 Operations Site at the LIMA Station.

 He received a briefing on the role of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in enhancing enforcement tasks as Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) in the waters of Sabah.

The presence of the “ScanEagle” UAS system and its support equipment will undoubtedly enhance the ISR capabilities of the TLDM around Layang-Layang Island and the Spratly Islands, which are always a contentious area.

On October 30th, Defense Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan announced that the Ministry of Defense would deploy a Long Range Radar (LRR) on Malaysia’s Layang-Layang Island within the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

(Credit RMN)
(Credit RMN)


As we know, the Spratly Islands, which are said to be rich in oil and gas, are a hotly contested region with several regional countries like China, Vietnam, and the Philippines claiming the entire area or parts of it as their own.

For example, China has turned several coral reefs in the Spratly Islands into military bases, deploying military aircraft, radar and communication facilities, and warships.

The TLDM’s action of deploying the ScanEagle UAS system at the Layang-Layang Station is expected to enhance its ability to monitor the waters of Malaysia in the Spratly Islands.

The TLDM is believed to have 12 ScanEagle UAS systems developed by Boeing-Insitu.

 These UAS systems were donated to Malaysia by the United States under the Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) program, aimed at enhancing maritime monitoring and the defense capabilities of Washington’s partner countries. — DSA



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