This week, Indonesia officially commissioned another one of its fast attack crafts. The scheduled event marked another advance for Jakarta in pursuit of its naval modernization in spite of the challenges that remain for it in this respect that are expected to continue as President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo continues on into his second term in office.
As I have noted before in these pages and elsewhere, 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. This comes amid other priorities, including boosting country’s nascent but growing domestic defense industry as well as it builds up its capabilities.
One of the classes of vessels that has been in the spotlight in this respect is the guided missile fast attack craft, an effort that has been undertaken with the help of Indonesian companies including state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL. While these have already begun to be produced, Indonesian defense officials have also signaled that Jakarta will need much more of such vessels for its future ambitions.
This week, another development put the focus on this ongoing process. On July 25, Indonesia officially took delivery of its fourth KCR-60M fast attack craft. The development was publicized in a commissioning ceremony that was held in Surabaya on that day which was attended by top Indonesian defense officials including Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu.
The commissioning of the vessel in question, named the KRI Kerambit, had been an expected development. The vessel had seen its first steel-cutting by PT PAL in February 2017. It was then subsequently launched in February 2018, and its commissioning was expected to follow that as well thereafter.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Indonesia’s navy chief, Admiral Siwi Sukma Adji, emphasized the fact that the KRI Kerambit boasted some advanced capabilities relative to the previous ships Indonesia had had under the KCR-60 program, including in terms of systems on board. Meanwhile, Ryacudu reinforced the important role for the domestic defense industry, even though he admitted that order placements for further vessels had been made but would be gradually realized.
As expected, the KRI Kerambit will be the placed within Fleet I, which oversees waters in western Indonesia and the South China Sea. Though Indonesia does not consider itself has an official claimant in the South China Sea, it has outstanding issues with Beijing that have yet to be resolved and has sought to be an active player on the matter previously.