By ADRIAN DAVID
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‚Äôs sovereignty.
RMN chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaa far said that the Sabahlast month‚Äôs intrusion into Sabah by armed men¬† from Sulu, the Philippines, that led to Ops¬† Daulat had absorbed much of the navy‚Äôs re sources and posed tremendous challenges for it.
‚ÄúWhile 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).
‚ÄúWe 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,‚Äù 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs¬† exclusive economic zone.
Apart from the surface vessels, the RMN‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúSince deploying auxiliary ships to the Gulf¬† of Aden, none of the MISC ships have not been hijacked by¬† pirates from Somalia,‚Äù 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.
‚ÄúApart 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),‚Äù¬† 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‚Äôs sports teams.
‚ÄúThe 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.
‚ÄúFor this year‚Äôs Myanmar Sea Games, 23¬† naval personnel have already been selected and 31¬† others having been shortlisted,‚Äù said Abdul Aziz.
Crew proficiency has been enhanced with¬† training vessels like¬† Teguh Samudera and¬† Gagah Samudera, and the Agosta 70 Quessant¬† submarine.
‚ÄúAlong with other training, certification and¬† academic initiatives, these are measures to¬† groom the men for the job.‚Äù