The Royal Malaysian Navy is planning to procure additional submarines in a bid to boost the nation's naval defence capability, Navy chief admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar said.
The move comes in line with heightened tension over China's territorial claims over the South China Sea, with territory also being claimed by Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Vietnam besides Malaysia.
Bernama cited Jaafar as saying that due to budget constraints, the Navy's plan may not be implemented in the near future and that its naval officers also needed to be trained to gain experience on the fundamental skills in submarine operations.
"The skills and experience are needed to ensure that the submarines can be operated safely and effectively," Aziz Jaafar added.
Describing navy's challenges Aziz Jaafar told Bernama: "The first challenge is to retain skilled personnel in the service due to competition, and attractive and lucrative offers awaiting them in the corporate world."
"The second challenge is to maintain the level of preparedness of naval assets, especially involving aging assets as they are getting obsolete, and technological development," Jaafar added.
The Navy currently operates two diesel-electric Scorpene Class submarines KD Tunku Abdul Rahman and KD Tun Razak, which were delivered to Navy in 2009 and 2010 respectively as a part of deal signed with France in 2002.
Built by French company DCNS, the 67.5m-long submarine has a displacement capacity of 1,550t and can accommodate a crew of 31.
Both submarines have been operating with the Navy to protect national waters from invasion and encroachment.
During the deployment in the Straits of Melaka, the submarines identified hot spots as well as conducted integrated operations jointly with maritime agencies from neighbouring countries.
Image: DCNS-built Royal Malaysian Navy's first Scorpene-class submarine at its naval base in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Mak Hon Keong.