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LIMA 2017: Malaysia could train Saudi submariners

19th March 2017 - 22:00 by Dzirhan Mahadzir in Kuala Lumpur

LIMA 2017: Malaysia could train Saudi submariners

Discussions about Malaysia providing submarine training to Saudi Arabia are at a preliminary stage, and nothing has been finalised yet, the Chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), Adm Ahmad Kamarulzaman, revealed.

On 2 March, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein issued a statement saying that, as part of current Malaysia-Saudi Arabia defence cooperation efforts, Malaysia had offered the sharing of expertise and training for members of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) in regard to operating submarines.

Speaking at a press conference on 7 March, Kamarulzaman stated that the RMN had excess capacity in its submarine training infrastructure located at RMN Kota Kinabalu, since the training facilities there were designed to meet the needs of a full squadron of six submarines. Currently, the RMN only operates two Scorpene submarines.

Kamarulzaman added that the RMN had the equipment and simulators to provide a full-force training programme. He also said it was too early to comment on potential RSNF numbers that could be trained.

'At this stage, we are looking at the figures. Obviously, we would not be at the moment able to train huge numbers, but in the initial stage there is not a problem at all for initial training for basic submariners,' he said.

Kamarulzaman declined to reveal the number of submariners that the RMN Submarine Training Centre produces annually, but an RMN press release on 21 December 2016 announced that 18 personnel (four officers and 14 other ranks) had obtained Level 1 Submarine Qualification and Dolphin badges.

The RMN has four levels of submarine qualification, with level 1 being crew qualified, level 2 being instructor level, level 3 for heads of department and level 4 for submarine commanding officers.

The press release also stated the training centre to date had trained 209 RMN personnel to various levels of qualification and expertise. It did not state when the centre began training operations, but a 2013 news report stated then RMN Chief Adm Aziz Jaafar as saying it began training personnel in April 2011, and that the submarine qualification course lasted 18-24 months.

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