Calling the reports "irresponsible", RMN chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar lambasted a local English daily for its inaccuracies which tarnished the navy's reputation.
"The RMN regrets that these reports have been highly inaccurate and misleading, resulting in the public being grossly misinformed of the actual status of the KD TAR."
Aziz said no submarine-operating country in the world discussed the operational status of its submarines, which were deemed highly sensitive strategic weapons, in the media.
"It is disheartening to note that the writer had not acted responsibly to make any effort to verify the facts before publishing them.
"Repeatedly publishing erroneous and misleading reports will not only tarnish the image of the RMN's submarine force but also expose the country's defence establishment to ridicule.
"As such, the RMN has reluctantly been forced to rebut publicly the irresponsible misinformation and statements made in the said mentioned articles, particularly two reports which highlighted purported defects to the submarine which made it unable to dive," he said in reference to news reports by the daily in February and last week.
Aziz clarified that prior to arriving safely in Kota Kinabalu on Sept 17 last year, KD TAR had sailed approximately 8,300 nautical miles with 31 days submerged out of the 43 days spent at sea.
As such, Aziz said, the question of "Initial Operational Capability" or being "declared fully operational" did not arise as the submarine would not have completed the journey safely if it was not fully operational.
"At no point in time from the date of physical hand-over has the safety of either submarines and its crew been compromised by any defects on board.
"A submarine is constantly subjected to, and operates in, an extremely hostile and harsh environment which necessitates constant monitoring, maintenance and rectification of the systems and equipment onboard.
"Inadvertently, as in any submarine in the world, some equipment or systems can and will fail or be degraded in performance.
"The KD TAR did encounter some defects and shortcomings but at no time did any of these defects endanger the crew or submarine to the extent of rendering it unable to dive, as claimed by the news reports."
Aziz said the RMN had conducted rigorous safety inspection, appraisal and verification process, similar or even more stringent to that of aircraft safety processes, to certify a submarine "safe-to-dive" before it was allowed to embark on any mission.
"Similar to an aircraft, any submarine will have to undergo compulsory scheduled maintenance after a specified period of operations.
"These scheduled maintenance periods have been planned in advance to fit into the operational cycle of the submarines. The KD TAR has undergone, as scheduled, several of those maintenance periods since returning to Malaysia.
"Thus, the news report in February that KD TAR suffered a technical defect that prevented it from diving for three months is untrue as the KD TAR had in fact been undergoing its scheduled maintenance period during that period."
Aziz also criticised the part of the article which said the submarine had been lying unfixed in the naval base, saying it conjured up an image of the submarine lying idle at the naval base, crippled and unattended to.
"The fact is that the submarines, like all RMN surface ships, are manned 24 hours a day, every day and all defects, however small or insignificant are acted on immediately.
"However, in this case the statement is untrue as the KD TAR has in fact been operational, a fact that the armed forces chief (General Tan Sri Azizan Ariffin) can attest to when he dived with the submarine during her operations in the South China Sea on March 5-8.
"Lately, the submarine had also successfully carried out a test firing of a mock-up missile during operations in the South China Sea."
Aziz added that the question of the the crew losing their submariners rating if they remained on land as claimed by the report did not arise.
"However, in the unlikely event that the submarine is indeed rendered unoperational for an extended period, the crew will still be able to maintain currency (as submariners) via simulator training which is available at the Submarine Training Centre at the submarine base (in Teluk Sepanggar)."
The RMN, he added, also viewed very seriously the fact that "defence industry sources" had divulged, albeit erroneously, information that were highly classified to the media.
"The RMN will initiate a thorough investigation to identify these sources, as these irresponsible elements can also be divulging information to other unauthorised parties," he said, adding that the Official Secrets Act could be invoked on the culprits.
source: nst.com.my by adrian d