The move comes as the agency is looking at the expansion of its fleet. The Malaysian government told IHS Jane's in late March that it plans to increase the number of MMEA assets available for sea and air operations.
The River-class Batch 2 is a 90 m OPV that is currently on order for the UK Royal Navy (RN). The RN is acquiring three ships to support a broad range of maritime security operations.
BAE Systems international business development executive Clive Marchant described the OPV as one designed for coast guard-type operations and based on a proven platform that is in use with the Brazilian and Royal Thai navies.
Marchant highlighted the ship built for the Royal Thai Navy (RTN), HTMS Krabi , as an example of the company successfully working with a Southeast Asian shipbuilder under a license-build arrangement. Krabi was built by Bangkok Dock under a technology-transfer agreement signed with BAE Systems in mid-2009. "We will be very happy for a Malaysian company to consider building it", said Marchant - although he did not go into specifics of how the company might collaborate with an indigenous Malaysian shipyard.
Krabi is fitted with an Oto Melara 76 mm gun, but Marchant contended that the MMEA would probably not require a platform that is as heavily armed. "Maybe just a 30 mm gun and a simple mission system [would be required]", he said. Marchant added that more important features for the MMEA would be the River-class design's endurance and space to accommodate additional equipment, thus improving capacity to cover Malaysia's vast exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The OPV can embark sea boats and a helicopter which, said Marchant, would provide the MMEA with "a better all-round capability in surveillance and search-and-rescue operations". The River-class can take one medium-sized helicopter up to 12 tonnes; its flight deck can accommodate up to six 20 ft containers for mission system packages and equipment and supplies.
The Royal Navy River-class patrol vessel HMS Clyde leaving Portsmouth in 2007.