Malaysia: Going all out to safeguard nation


BOLSTERING CAPABILITIES: Navy undergoing transformation and modernisation to face new challenges

KUALA LUMPUR: THE Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) is fac ing renewed challenges, includingcontaining  threats to the nation’s sovereignty.

RMN chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaa far said that the Sabahlast month’s intrusion into Sabah by armed men  from Sulu, the Philippines, that led to Ops  Daulat had absorbed much of the navy’s re sources and posed tremendous challenges for it.

“While the navy is undergoing a transfor mation and modernisation of its assets, we are,  at the same time, under great pressure to safe guard the territorial waters off Sabah, more so  with the establishment of the 1,400km Eastern  Sabah Safety Zone (Esszone).

“We are also working overtime to protect our  maritime assets in the the South China Sea and  the Straits ofto Malacca with whatever available re sources, much of which have aged,” he said told newsmen in an interview in conjunc tion with the 79th RMN Day tomorrow. (April 27).

Abdul Aziz said the Defence Ministry was in the process of refur bishing some of the navy’s essential vessels,  such as the fast-attack craft, while new-gen eration patrol vessels and littoral combatant  ships were being built to add muscle for the RMN to protect Malaysia’s  exclusive economic zone.

Apart from the surface vessels, the RMN’s capabil ity has been bolstered with the presence of two Scorpene sub marines and the ably assisted by its AgustaWestland Super Lynx  300 and Eurocopter AS 555 SN Fennec he licopter squadrons.

Apart from Ops Serkap off Sabah’s east  coast, Aziz said  RMN was also at present involved in various  other operations, namely Ops Sekat off  Langkawi; Ops Pejarak off Pulau Perak and  Pulau Jarak (overlooking Perak); Ops Sinar  Sakti off Gugusan Semarang Peninjau (over looking Sabah); Ops Kekal Warisan off Pulau  Batu Putih (south of Singapore); Ops Pasir off  Pulau Pandanan and Sipadan Island Resort;  and, Ops Fajar in the Gulf of Aden escorting  MISC Bhd vessels.

“Since deploying auxiliary ships to the Gulf  of Aden, none of the MISC ships have not been hijacked by  pirates from Somalia,” Abdul Aziz said, referring to  the successful apprehension of seven Somali pirates who attacked  MISC  vessel MT Bunga Laurel on Jan 21, 2011.

The chemical tanker was bound for Sin gapore with a cargo of lubricating oil worth  more than US$10 million (RM30.4 million)  when pirates armed with AK-47 rifles hijacked  the ship.
Malaysian naval commandos from another  vessel protecting shipping in the Gulf of Aden along with a navy attack helicopter, responded to the distress call and cap tured the pirates after a shootout. The Somali  pirates were   charged in Malaysia.

RMN has since deployed to the gulf the auxiliary ship Bun ga Mas 5 which successfully escorted 234 MISC vessels in  194 convoys. Late last year, Bunga Mas 6 was  deployed and it escorted 41 MISC vessels in an  equal number of convoys.

“Apart from the above operations, the RMN also conducts joint naval exercises regularly  with Singapore (Malpura), the Philippines  (Malphi), Thailand (Thalay Laut), Brunei  (Hornbill), Carat (United States-led multina tional exercise) and  with its Five-Power De fence Arrangement allies (Bersama Lima),”  said Abdul Aziz.

During peacetime, he said the RMN  played a  role induring humanitarian disaster relief and med ical evacuation efforts, and was a major con tributor to the country’s sports teams.

“The RMN has been the Armed Forces tri-ser vices overall team champions for the past five  years. During the 2011 Jakarta Sea Games,  RMN athletes contributed 10ten gold, five silver  and three bronze medals for Malaysia.

“For this year’s Myanmar Sea Games, 23  naval personnel have already been selected and 31  others having been shortlisted,” said Abdul Aziz.

Crew proficiency has been enhanced with  training vessels like  Teguh Samudera and  Gagah Samudera, and the Agosta 70 Quessant  submarine.

“Along with other training, certification and  academic initiatives, these are measures to  groom the men for the job.”


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