This week, Indonesia launched another locally-built patrol vessel in a ceremony attended by top officials and representatives. The scheduled event marked an advance within one of several classes of patrol vessels that Indonesia is building out as part of its wider military modernization effort, despite the continued challenges that remain on this front for the Southeast Asian state.
As I have noted before in these pages, Indonesia has long been engaged in an effort to strengthen the country’s maritime capabilities in recognition of the sobering reality that it needs more vessels and aircraft to fully monitor what is the world’s second longest coastline. Jakarta also wants to boost the country’s nascent but growing domestic defense industry as well as it builds up its capabilities, which only compounds that challenge (See: “An Indonesian Defense Revolution Under Jokowi?”).
Part of that effort has been investments made by the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) in patrol vessels of various sizes and types within its wider military modernization efforts and targets set forth in its Minimum Essential Force (MEF) out to 2024. One of these is the 40-meter vessels under the PC-40 program, which has involved various local shipbuilders including PT Palindo Marine in Batam and PT Caputra Mitra Sejati (PT CMS) in Banten. Progress on the PC-40 program has continued over the years, though at a slower pace than Indonesian defense officials would like.
On Monday, the TNI-AL launched another PC-40 class patrol vessel. The ship, named BKRI Albakora-867, was officially launched in a ceremony presided over by the Vice Chief of Staff of the Navy Vice Admiral Taufiq R. Taufiq was representing the Navy chief in a ceremony that was attended by other officials and representatives held at a PT CMS facility in Banten.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Taufiq predictably framed the event as being part of Indonesia’s ongoing development of its own defense industry and broader objective of reducing dependence on other countries, and also noted the important role of local shipbuilding firms like PT CMS as part of this effort.
In reality, Indonesian officials themselves no doubt recognize that Jakarta still has a long way to go to actually getting to that goal. Though progress on some fronts have been made, Indonesia is still behind on some of its original targets on patrol vessel classes, and that gap is largely due to familiar issues including resource constraints as well as the challenges that come with building up a still nascent defense industry. That is worth keeping in mind amid the hype around the launching or commissioning of individual vessels.