Friday, October 9, 2009

Malaysia to replace fire destroyed KD Seri Inderapura

Malaysia is to replace one of its biggest naval vessels which was destroyed in a fire caused by a short circuit, the country's defence minister said. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told state media late Thursday he was proposing the purchase of a new landing craft, after an early morning fire destroyed the KD Seri Inderapura at the Lumut naval base in northern Perak state. Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the damage to the 40-year-old landing craft was more severe than before."It cost RM68 million to repair the ship then and I believe the repair may cost more this time around.

"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," he told the Bernama news agency. Ahmad Zahid said initial reports indicated that the fire was started by a short circuit on board the vessel, which was carrying 77 personnel, including six officers and 22 trainees, but no one died.

"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 added. Ahmad Zahid said the vessel had been loaded with supplies for delivery to the navy's bases in the states of Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo island, and there are plans to send fresh supplies to the bases using another landing craft.

Officials said it took firefighters eight hours to put out the blaze and that this was the second time that the KD Seri Inderapura had caught fire in its 15-year service with the Malaysian navy.The 40-year-old ship was one of three Malaysian navy vessels deployed in the Gulf of Aden last year to assist in anti-piracy operations. It was previously owned by the US Navy and saw action in Operation Desert Storm in the first Gulf War before being sold to Malaysia in 1995.


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