T he Kingdom's naval defense capabilities will receive a significant boost when
two Soviet-built, fast attack patrol boats return from being overhauled in
Malaysia at the end of September.
The two refurbished "Modified Stenka"
class sea-going craft will return to Cambodia's naval base in Ream "in the next
few weeks", according to a government official who asked not to be
The 170-ton ships were towed to the Hong Leong Lurssen Shipyard in
Butterworth, Malaysia in August, l994 where extensive repairs were done,
including installing new diesel engines made by Caterpillar of the U.S., the
re-fitting of new hulls and repairs to the vessels' electrical systems.
On Aug 30, Cambodia's National Asembly approved a loan of $14.2 million
to cover the costs of the repairs.
In arguing approval for the loan,
Finance Minister Keat Chhon said the ships would be used to beef up the
Kingdom's ability to protect its territorial waters.
Chhon said the
country was losing between $10 to $15 million a year due to illegal fishing in
He added that the Stenkas would also be used to provide
security to oil companies drilling offshore.
A Malaysian embassy
spokesman said the quasi-governmental Bank Industri Malaysia would be making the
loan to the Cambodian government, although details of the terms were not
According to a western defense analyst, the cost of the Stenka
refit was estimated at $3 million per vessel.
The source speculated that
Malaysia may also be providing additional used or new patrol boats to the
Cambodian navy as part of the deal which would account for the difference in the
actual costs involved and the amount of the loan requested by the Cambodian
As well, it is understood that Malaysia was to provide
training for two commanders and an unspecified number of crewmen.
Royal Cambodian Navy has four Stenkas which were donated by the former Soviet
Union in 1984 to the then People's Republic of Kampuchea.
The ships were
originally equipped with four 30mm twin machine guns and four 406mm torpedo
tubes, although it is unclear what the current state of the Stenka's military
The other two Stenkas are still afloat at the Ream naval
base near the port of Sihanoukville, although no plans are in the works to
improve their seaworthiness.