This week, Indonesia commissioned another patrol vessel in a ceremony attended by top officials and representatives. Though the advance was just the latest within just one of several classes of Indonesia is building out, it nonetheless bears watching as part of the Southeast Asian state’s wider naval modernization effort despite the challenges that remain.
As I have noted in these pages, Indonesia has long been engaged in an effort to strengthen its maritime capabilities and boost its domestic defense industry as part of its wider military modernization targets set forth in its Minimum Essential Force (MEF) initially set out to 2024. That effort has continued under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo amid some familiar challenges that it continues to try to address as well along the way (See: “An Indonesian Defense Revolution Under Jokowi?”).
One of the dimensions of this effort has been the investments made by the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) in patrol vessels of various sizes. 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. This is part of a wider problem, where Indonesia has been behind on some of the original targets on patrol vessel classes for a range of reasons including resource constraints and its still nascent defense industry.
Nonetheless, incremental progress continues to be made, and the launching and commissioning of new vessels, and the headlines that follow, is the most visible manifestation of this. One of the developments came back in March, where the TNI-AL had launched a PC-40 class patrol vessel named BKRI Albakora-867 in a ceremony at the PT CMS facility in Banten.
On July 9, Indonesia commissioned the KRI Albakora 867. The commissioning occurred as part of a ceremony that was led by Indonesian Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Siwi Sukma Adji at Sunda Kelapa Port along with several other officials and personnel.
According to Indonesian state media, during his remarks at the ceremony, Adji framed the commissioning of the vessel within the context of the modernization and professionalization of the Indonesian navy. He also inaugurated and confirmed Major Marine Sony Sartantyo as the first commander of the ship, which will be based at the TNI-AL’s naval base in Jayapura.