Last week, Indonesia had a keel-laying ceremony for two tank landing ships. The development marked an advance within one of several platforms 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 a bid to boost its maritime capabilities in order to address a range of domestic and foreign challenges and managing the world’s second longest coastline. This has occurred amid a series of other priorities as well, including building up the country’s nascent but growing domestic defense industry which President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his administration are expected to continue during his second term in office.
As part of this effort, Indonesia has sought tank landing ships (LST) for the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL). Indonesia already has ships like these in service, including the KRI Teluk Bintuni which had carried the army’s Leopard main battle tanks, there have been efforts underway to build more as well, with the initial plan being for 12 new LST vessels ordered in batches over time.
Last week, we saw another instance of a spotlight on this capability with a keel-laying ceremony. The Indonesian shipbuilder PT Bandar Abadi laid down two more Teluk Bintuni-class LSTs on order for the TNI-AL in a ceremony held on December 19 at the company’s facilities in Bantam. Per previous specifications, the vessels in this class have a length of 120 meters, a beam of 18 meters, a hull draught of 3 meters, with a top speed of 16 knots and a range of 7,200 nautical miles.
The keel-laying ceremony last week was confirmed by Terafulk Ship Design, which is collaborating with PT Bandar Abadi, in a company statement dated December 19. The statement referenced a keel-laying ceremony for LST 117M (AT-8 and AT-9) at the shipyard, and included an image of the development that was also posted on the company’s social media feed.
Unsurprisingly, not much in the way of additional details was provided such as updated timelines or progress regarding the capability more broadly, with no comments publicly released by company or government officials and the vessels still under construction at this time. Nonetheless, as Indonesia continues to build up its military capabilities, LSTs will be among the many platforms which will be important to watch to assess how Jakarta is managing the opportunities and challenges inherent in that process.