Newspaper report regarding the three OPVs BENDAHARA SAKAM,
NAKHODA RAGAM and JERAMBAK built on the Clyde for the Brunei Navy:
"They have been languishing on the Clyde for years, the focus of a multi-million pound wrangle between a shipbuilder and a tiny royal state ruled by one of the world's richest men.
Now three coastal patrol frigates built for the Royal Brunei Navy between 2001 and 2004 at a cost of £600m are to be sold off to the highest bidder after a three-year dispute between BAE Systems and the Brunei government.
The offshore patrol ships, equipped with Exocet missiles and a rapid-fire gun capable of launching shells out to 10 miles, were completed at the company's Scotstoun yard and due to be handed over in 2004.
The Bruneians then claimed that the vessels were not up to specification, refused to accept delivery and withheld the final, incremental payment to BAe. The issue was then referred for arbitration.
A BAe spokesman said yesterday: "We and the Royal Brunei Technical Services (the equivalent of the Ministry of Defence) have reached an amicable conclusion to issues related to the contract for the supply of the vessels.
"While the terms of the contract, finalised in May, remain confidential, we can confirm that the three warships have now been handed over to the RBTS.
"They remain moored on the Clyde at Scotstoun under a care and maintenance agreement until next month."
A naval insider told The Herald: "The Bruneians currently operate a small fleet of fairly basic vessels, most of which are 20 years old or more.
"The truth of the matter is that there was nothing wrong with the design or build specifications of the BAe ships. They are simply too sophisticated in terms of equipment for the Bruneian navy to handle effectively. When that was realised, it was decided to refuse to take delivery rather than accept the loss of face involved in being unable to use or even crew them.
"This is not a European power. Face means everything in the context of the region. Their ambitions were simply bigger than their ability to deal with the technology involved."
The Herald understands that Brunei has now approached a German middleman to act as its agent in the sale of the vessels.
The company involved is Lurssen, which yesterday refused to comment on its possible role in the disposal sale.
The original contract for the three, 2000-tonne ships was signed in January 1998 and work began two months later. They have a top speed of 30 knots and can accommodate up to 100 crew at any one time.
A naval source said last night: "These are beautiful ships for what they were meant to do. We'd love to have them for the Iraq Gulf patrols.
"But there are a few catches. They were designed to accommodate Bruneian sailors, who have an average height of 5ft 6in. The bunks, bulkheads, doors, mess deck and everything else on board is designed for people that tall and no taller.
"There is also no central heating system installed. If you're operating in the Sulawesi Straits, you don't need heat. But they really wouldn't be much use in the South Atlantic in winter or on exercise in the North Sea in a gale."
Industrial sources say payment was never the bone of contention.
The Sultan of Brunei, who rents an entire battalion of British Army Gurkhas as his personal bodyguards, is the world's richest man."
I believe they are to be taken to BAe at Barrow initially.