20 November 2013
Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said on 19 November that a decision will be made by the end of 2013 on whether to continue Operation 'Fajar', the Royal Malaysian Navy's (RMN's) anti-piracy escort mission in the Gulf of Aden for ships belonging to the Malaysian International Shipping Corporation (MISC).
"It has been decided that within the next two months ... that the government, RMN, and MISC will assess the mission and decide upon the mission's future," he said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.
RMN Chief Admiral Aziz Jaafar told IHS Jane's that an alternative being considered was for MISC to station private security teams on its ships, a course of action being considered because MISC ships faced the threat of pirate attacks beyond the range that they are under escort.
The MISC security teams would comprise ex-RMN navy commandos "so we have no reservations about the security teams' capabilities as they were formerly our men," Adm Aziz said.
Should the option to field private security contractors be undertaken, the RMN auxiliary ships carrying out the mission on a rotational basis, Bunga Mas 5 and Bunga Mas 6, both of which are loaned by MISC, would be de-flagged and revert back to their merchant status under MISC.
Operation 'Fajar' began on 30 August 2008 when an RMN task group carrying a tri-service commando force with helicopters was dispatched to rescue the crew of two MISC tankers hijacked by Somali pirates (although the force did not go into action as the hostages were freed after a ransom was paid).
A series of RMN warships then carried out the escort mission until it was taken over by the Bunga Mas 5 in June 2009. The vessel was supplemented by a second auxiliary, the Bunga Mas 6, in August 2011.