DPM: Sepangar Bay naval base strategically placed

Article Reference: The Star Online

 KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia's new naval base at Sepangar Bay will become a strategic regional base to accommodate not only the nation'sr new submarines but also cater for the needs of bigger class foreign vessels, including aircraft carriers.

 This Royal Malaysian Navy base will be fully operational in mid-2009 with the acquisition of the French made Scorpene submarines, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said on Monday after visiting the base.

 He said the base had been operating since Aug 31 last year with the Labuan Region Two Command headquarters from Sabah and Sarawak moving to the new base costing about RM1bil.

 "So far we have spent RM660mil and another RM330mil will be spent to complete the entire base facilities," he said.

 He added that the base would be home to about 2,000 to 2,500 personnel once it was fully operational.

 "This is our main and strategic base covering the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea. We are locating our main assets here," he said, adding that the modern and sophisticated base was also equipped with a naval air station.

 On the training of 145 naval personnel for the submarines in France, he said it was going on smoothly and the government has approved a monthly allowance of RM800 for officers and RM600 for non-officers in training with effect from Jan 1, 2005.

 Najib also said that the presence of the base near Kota Kinabalu, would see greater interaction between the naval personell and the local people as many facilities like the electronic shooting gallery, swimming pool, sailing and stadium facilities would be used by various associations.

 "I am sure the presence of the naval base will have a positive effect in integration," he said.

 Visiting foreign vessels would also help contribute towards the local economy as well as make Sabah better known as a tourism destination, he added.

 He said that visits by foreign naval vessels was normal and they would hold bilateral exercises with friendly countries, including the United States.