The Archipelago

Indonesia looks to build
its own warships

Come sail away: Naval cadets line up next to Indonesia’s Banda Aceh warship in Surabaya on Monday. Indonesia is looking to build its own warships, including submarines.JP/Wahyoe Boediwardhana
Come sail away: Naval cadets line up next to Indonesia’s Banda Aceh warship in Surabaya on Monday. Indonesia is looking to build its own warships, including submarines.JP/Wahyoe Boediwardhana

The Indonesian government is looking into the possibility of building its own warships in order to strengthen the country’s defense systems and reduce its dependence on other countries for warships.

Next month, state-owned shipbuilding company PT PAL, in cooperation with Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding of the Netherlands, will begin designing light corvettes — ships designed for anti-submarine warfare — for the Indonesian Navy in anticipation of their construction in the country. The warships will be the largest ever produced by a local shipbuilding firm.

The government has also given the green light for the building of a submarine beginning in 2014. The sub will be built after the Indonesian government selects the specifications, the type of submarine it desires and which countries will be chosen to transfer the technology to Indonesia.

So far four countries — France, Russia, Germany and South Korea – have emerged as contenders, but the government has not made a decision about which country will be chosen to build the initial sub.

Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro discussed the government’s plans at a ceremony for the handover of a domestically made warship — the KRI Banda Aceh 593 — to the Navy in Surabaya, East Java, on Monday.

“The government has decided to build its own submarine. But building a submarine cannot be done hastily because its technology is complicated. We are still designing it, what kind of submarine and what is suitable for Indonesian waters,” Yusgiantoro said.

Indonesian Military (TNI) Chief Adm. Agus Suhartono said at the ceremony that Indonesia’s waters were distinctive as its western seas were shallow and the east had deep waters, therefore choosing a suitable submarine was essential.

Agus said the initial submarine would be built in the country that possessed the right technology. “The second, the third and the following submarines will be built here and at the same time will be accompanied by a transfer of technology,” Agus said.

PT PAL president Harsusanto said his company was ready to build the submarines and the corvette warships as long as it was given a chance to learn.

“The proof is the Banda Aceh warship. We turned out to be able to build warships by ourselves. If we can do this, we will also be able to produce others,” he said.

PT PAL strives to use local products for defense items built domestically so as to save money.

The government promised to continuously renew all TNI defense equipment in stages by the year 2024.

Out of the country’s four LPD warships, each with a capacity of 507 personnel, ordered from Daewoo International, two were built in Indonesia by PT PAL and two in South Korea. The ships were US$15.4 million each.

The 125-meter long warships were specially designed to accommodate a 100mm cannon launcher and equipped with a combat information center for its main weapons control system.

The ships are capable of traveling for 30 days and can contain two landing craft carriers, tank carriers, combat vehicles, tactical vehicles, troop carriers and five helicopters.

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