Saturday, January 31, 2009

So Who Owns The Ouessant Actually?

There has always been a question mark from the general public on the actual ownership of the Agosta 70 class submarine Ouessant used in the training of the Malaysian submariners in France. The confusion arises because early reports on Malaysia's acquisition of the Scorpene Submarines stated that package included the purchase of the Ouessant. Nonetheless the actual training agreement with DCI (Défense Conseil International) and their submarine training unit, NAVFCO in 2003 actually calls for the training of 156 submariners in NAVFCO Submarine school in Centre d’Instruction Naval (CIN) Brest, France for the formation and training of a submarine corps. This includes physical training on board the Ouessant, rehabilitated by DCN in 2004 after deactivation by the French Navy in 2001, by a crew detached from the navy to man the submarine while she is being used in the initial training of the Malaysian submariners. Thus this makes the submarine unique in being civilian owned but maintained by military personnel in France. So it is no surprise that she flies the French flag while transitting Brest in 2007 as in the picture above. Unfortunately this fact is only well documented in a French website but should be easily translated in the net.

As for the future of the Ouessant after the end of the Submariner's training this year, the current RMN CNO Datuk Seri Abdul Aziz Jaafar in an interview last April by Defence Site KLSR emphatically stated that she will not come back to Malaysia to serve in the navy. This is because Ouessant is almost 30 years old so it will be very hard to get spare parts for operational use and Malaysia also does not have skillful personal to maintain and service her. Nonetheless the CNO left open the possibility that she may return as a museum ship as she has significant historical value for RMN and is an important part of the RMN’s effort to establish submarine fleet. Nonetheless whether any money can be made available for this venture in the budget-tightening situation the armed forces is facing remains to be seen. Maybe the Perak State Government can include this in their proposed Lumut Waterfront project that includes a maritime museum complex. What do you say?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Malaysia Takes Delivery Of Its First Submarine

Malaysia has taken formal delivery of its first submarine KD Tunku Abdul Rahman at the French naval base in Toulon, on Saturday. This major milestone for the RMN follows the completion, in late December 2008, of KD Tunku Abdul Rahman's final sea trials demonstrating remarkable operational and combat system capabilities. These trials included successful firings of Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes and missiles.KD Tunku Abdul Rahman is scheduled to arrive at the Sepanggar naval base in July this year. The second of the series, KD Tun Razak, is scheduled for delivery in late 2009.

Manned by Malaysian crews of just 31, the boats offer an endurance of 45 days for a displacement of 1,550 tonnes and a length overall of 67.5 metres. The submarine can dive to a depth of between 100m and 200m and is armed with six torpedo tubes which can fire simultaneously, anti-ship surface missiles and anti-submarine torpedoes, with a capacity of 10 torpedoes and 30 mines.
The submarine service marks the gradual progress of the Royal Malaysian Navy towards a world-class navy, also in line with the wish to transition into the 4-dimensional warfare (surface, underwater, space and electronic) capability. Thus KD Tunku Abdul Rahman has now gone into history as the first submarine to be commissioned into the Royal Malaysian Navy and will sail home manned fully by our own submariners. Congratulations to the crew of the submarine on their having surpassed all obstacles and challenges in qualifying to become the crew of the nation's first submarine.

Monday, January 26, 2009

In The Finest Traditions Of The Navy

M o t t o
Malem Fero Malis: 'I bring evil to the evil.'

It is in the mists of time that sometimes it may be lost the reason why a naval ship is so named, especially since some navies like the Royal Navy as a tradition to rename their important ships with historic ships’ names in not only to commemorate their bravery but also with the hopes of continuing the fighting tradition of their predecessors. Many may not know it but the naming of the our new generation patrol vessels can trace their origins to the armed merchantmen that fought their Japanese navy ships despite overwhelming odds, and the most famous amongst them the HMS Kedah has oftentimes became the leading ship of the class. Thus it is through this tradition from the Royal Navy can our foremost stone frigate the KD Malaya trace the roots of her name to one of most important battleships of her era that bravely fought not in one but two world wars, thus no one can say the name was given in a vain glorious effort to mark our nation’s antecedent name but more to continue the tradition of venerating historic ships names to express the hopes that our fledgling navy would continue to uphold the fighting qualities the name embraces.

HMS Malaya was one of five great fifteen inch gun, oil burning super dreadnoughts of the 1912 Queen Elizabeth class and was named after the British colony that paid to build her at a cost of almost three million Sterling Pounds. This division of large, fast, heavily armoured ships, powered by oil and carrying heavier guns than on any previous dreadnought, played a decisive role in the Battle of Jutland, the apex battle between the Royal Navy and the Imperial German Navy in World War I. The dominant naval weapon of the era was the great gun: the long barrelled naval cannon that fired a heavy shell down a rifled tube, lofting the spiralling projectile thousands of yards to plunge onto an enemy ship, piercing and penetrating heavy armour to burst inside turrets or hull, spreading fire, devastation, chaos and death. The new ships could deliver a knockout punch with their large guns; it remained to provide them with armour and speed. In these ships there was no skimping in armour; key areas such as the waterline and turrets were covered by thirteen and a half inches of solid steel. These ships could now deliver and take a punch but speed was wanted as the standard twenty one knots of a British dreadnought was not sufficient to overtake a fleeing enemy and bring them to battle. Armour would not be sacrificed for speed and the solution is oil fuel as it burns more fiercely than coal and gives more heat and steam created under more pressure drove the shafts and turned the propellers quicker thus achieving speeds of 26 knots. Immeasurably superior to any earlier battleship, they continued to form the backbone of British naval strength well into the Second World War. And HMS Malaya was present at the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet as a reminder that Malaya as one of the Dominion states had made her contribution to the war at sea. In World War II she served in the Mediterranean in 1940, escorting convoys and operating against the Italian fleet. Latterly she served escorted convoys in the Atlantic and from the UK to Malta and Cape Town until summer 1943. Malaya was withdrawn from service at the end of 1944 and placed in reserve and served as an accommodation ship. Sold on 20 February 1948 to Metal Industries, she arrived at Faslane on 12 April 1948 for scrapping.

Point of a German 12inch shell which struck HMS Malaya in the Battle of Jutland, 31st May 1916.

The name Malaya was again resurrected after the war when the name was given to a LCT Mk3 that was inducted into service into the Malayan Naval Force on 18 April 1949, after conversion into a training and accommodation ship before entering service to serve as a training ship as the MS Malaya. The name was later transferred to an operational and training base built at Woodlands Singapore that was known as the HMMS Malaya in 1952 and was transferred to the newly independent Malaya in 1958 until being renamed as Kapal Diraja Malaya in 1961 after the navy dropped the old HMMS as a relic of colonialism. In 1984, KD Malaya that was serving as a support unit finally moved from Singapore to Lumut. Now serving as Fleet Headquarters, KD Malaya is still expected to be in the thick of action when the situation heats up even though she is now a stone frigate rather than a fire breathing combat ship that was her namesake, and therefore will carry on the fighting traditions as befitting the name.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Finally She Becomes A Museum

After five years of being decommissioned in 19 December 2003 and being used as a static training ship while awaiting her fate, I am happy to note that the Royal Malaysian Navy has finally decided to hand over the Ex Rahmat frigate to the Perak State Department to be developed into a museum ship as part of an historical monument and recreational site for Lumut that will be declared as a Naval Town in April. This will be in line with the Perak Sultan's command to keep the ship within the state. Privatised to a local company, the plan is to be implemented in three phases, the first of which involves renovating the frigate into a maritime museum incorporating a boutique hotel, bistro, hanging bridge and jetty at a cost of Ringgit 2.1 million to be berthed at the Lumut Waterfront while phase two will involve developing a RMN museum, Rahmat square and shopping complex.

Although on a personal basis I find the plan for turning part of the ship into a boutique hotel and bistro incomprehensible and abhorrent for the status of such a ship, I guess this is the commercial revenue pay-off to be given to the private company that is investing in the project. I do hope however that Rahmat the museum ship itself will emphasise the contributions that she has made for the more than thirty years that she has been in service to the nation, and underline the fact that she is the first Frigate that was purpose built and designed to Malaysian needs, and the result was so good she inspired frigate derivatives used by other navies including Thailand. She was also the first ship to be fitted with surface to air missile system, making the RMN the first navy in the region to be so-equipped. I re-produce herewith her specifications and I hope you enjoy some of her early pictures to boot.

A Yarrow Mark 1 frigate, Rahmat was the first major purpose-built warship for the Royal Malaysian Navy. She was laid down in 1966 and was originally called the KD Hang Jebat. However her name was later changed to Rahmat due to superstitious reasons after she had a run of unfortunate events in the 1970's. At the time of delivery, Rahmat was a capable ship by the standards then prevalent in South East Asia (SEA), with a high level of automation and a design emphasis on simplicity that reduced manning requirements. She was initially delivered in 1972 with a quadruple Sea Cat Surface to Air Missile(SAM) launcher, therefore making the Royal Malaysian Navy one of the first navies to be SAM-equipped in SEA. The third Bofors 40mm then replaced the outdated launcher in 1983 during a modernisation re-fit where the director was also removed, thereby altering her original appearance. On board, there is also a provision for the embarkation of a helicopter with the incorporation of a McGregor hatch over the well deck. Originally configured as an ASW frigate, she was used as the navy's second training vessel in the same squadron as KD Tuah. Decommissioned in 2004, she is now playing a role as a static training ship while awaiting conversion to a museum ship.

Displacement: 1250 tons standard, 1600 tons full load
Dimensions: 93.9m x 10.4m x 4.5m
Guns: 1 x 114mm/45 Vickers Mk 5 DP, 3x 40mm/70 Bofors. (Range : Main 19 Km/12.5 Km, Aux : 12 Km/4 Km)
ASW: 1 x Mk10 Limbo Mortar (3 tubes) (Range : 900 metres)
Electronics: Sewaco-MA combat data system, Signaal LW.02, Decca 626, Kelvin Hughes MS32 Radars, One radar for the WM22 gun fire-control system, Graseby Type 174 and Type 170B sonars, ESM system with UA-3 warning and FH-4 jamming elements, 2 UK Mk1 rail chaff launchers, Link Y
Propulsion: Rolls Royce Olympus TM1B gas turbine at 20626hp or Crossley/SEMT-Pielstick SPC2V diesel at 4000hp to two shafts, controllable pitch propellers
Speed: 26 knots, range 9656 Km at 16 knots
Crew: 140
Aircraft: Platform Aft

KD Rahmat In 1970

KD Rahmat In 1971

KD Rahmat in 1972

Sunday, January 18, 2009

From The Pirate's Mouth

To those of you who had wanted our government and our navy to go in with guns blazing as what the French did in their rescue of their yatchs, then this interview with one of the Kingpin's of the Somalian pirates would serve to illuminate what holds in wait if we had just done that to rescue our two larger tankers, whether it was successul or otherwise. At least consider the fact that our merchantmen still has to move in such waters after the inicident, and our government cannot afford to provide convoy escorts forever that would be especially needed if we had gone in like what some had wanted to. The possiblities of reprisal would have required at least that. Read on and try to understand that.

The Evil Solution

Young and desperate, Somali pirates aren't afraid to commit heinous acts of destruction, says one of their leaders.

Rod Nordland

Newsweek Web Exclusive

Somali pirates last September captured a Ukrainian cargo ship, the MV Faina, loaded to the gunnels with heavy weaponry, including 33 Russian-designed T-72 battle tanks. Since then, American and Russian naval vessels have been shadowing the ship at its anchorage off the fishing village of Hindawao, 300 miles north of Mogadishu. This month there were reports that the ship's owners had agreed on ransom terms, but the Faina and its crew are still being held. NEWSWEEK's Rod Nordland interviewed Shamun Indhabur, who is thought to be the leader of the pirates who took the Faina, and the Sirius Star, a Saudi supertanker with $100 million worth of oil aboard. The interview was conducted by satellite telephone to the bridge of the Faina, through Somali translator Abukar al-Badri. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: What is your background, and how did you capture the MV Faina?

Shamun Indhabur: I was a fisherman before I turned to piracy, a crewmember of a small fishing boat. We used to capture lobsters and sharks. When we hijacked MV Faina it was early morning 24 September 2008, in Somali waters. We took it after 60 minutes of fighting between the crewmembers and our gunmen and eventually the captain decided to surrender after we fired some rockets to warn them that we were close to destroying the ship if they didn't surrender. The captain tried to escape, but he didn't succeed. He had a pistol and he refused to surrender until we were close to killing him. When we intercepted the ship and saw the shipment [of arms], then we thought it was going to Somalia and belonged to the Ethiopians [whose army is supporting the transitional government in Somalia], but the captain told us that it was going to South Africa. Then later we saw that it was going to southern Sudan, after we forced the captain to show us the manifests.

What's the situation on board the Faina now?

The middlemen tried to steal some of the money we agreed on [estimated at more than $3 million]. And now we can't trust them. They're trying to take the money, and we are the criminals. We can't accept that.

How are your ransoms paid?

We get the money two ways. A boat takes the money from Djibouti, then a helicopter takes the money from the boat, then it drops the money in waterproof cartons on assigned [small] boats. Then we collect it, check if it is false or not, then we release the ship. The other way we get the money is a boat from Mombasa.

Isn't it dangerous for middlemen to be carrying so much money into a lawless place like Somalia?I've heard some of them have been killed doing it, is that true?

The pirates are different groups. Those in Puntland may have problems with the middlemen and sometimes kill them.

Why has there been such an increase Somali piracy?

In Somalia all the young men are desperate. There is wide unemployment in the country, there are no sources of income. One of the only sources we have had is fishing, and the superpowers and Asian countries sidelined us in our own sea. So at first we started out just to counter illegal fishing, but international forces started to protect them.

Now the European Union is sending an additional naval force. Are you worried about the increased naval presence?

We know the EU and NATO forces are coming, but that is not the solution. The solution is to restore peace in Somalia so that we can have a better life and more job opportunities. I can tell you that sending forces will not stop us going into piracy. They can arrest us if they find us out at sea, they've arrested our friends several times, but that will never deter us from this business. The only thing that can stop piracy is a strong government in Somalia.

The most friendly forces in Somali waters are the U.S. forces. They arrest us and release us, because they know we are not going to hurt them. But the French and the Indians treat us badly and sometimes they don't know what they're doing. The Indians sunk that Thai boat [a fishing vessel reportedly taken over by pirates this month] and said it was pirates, but I tell you there was not a single pirate on that boat.

Are you worried about another attack ashore, such as the one the French conducted, now that the U.N. has approved such attacks?

The French forces made two attacks. They arrested our friends, but French nationals will pay for that. If we get a ship with French nationals, we will punish the crew and they will pay double ransom. We're not worried about another attack [against pirates on land], because now we are on very high alert and they will never succeed with another raid.

You justify piracy against all shipping even though your only complaint was against foreign fishing boats operating in your waters. Does that really make sense?

I justify it as a dirty business encouraged by the foreign forces that were escorting illegal fishing boats and toxic waste dumpers. And if they are escorting fishing boats, they can't escort all commercial shipping, and if we are forced to avoid fishing our waters, then those [commercial] ships are all our fish.

How do you justify attacking pleasure yachts hundreds of miles offshore, or cruise liners, or even any vessel so far from Somalia?

Luxury yachts are what we are looking for, because what we need is money, and if we get a luxury yacht, we make a fortune.

Some ships have started putting armed guards on their vessels. Others have used weapons such as sonic guns, which use beams of loud noise to deter pirates. Does any of that worry you?

It will not protect them. We also have rocket-propelled grenades and we can destroy them. For those with the sonic guns, we hijacked some of them even after they fired the sonic guns. Truly speaking, when we go to sea we are drunk, and we are like hungry wolves running after meat. We don't even know what we are doing until we have boarded.

Some of the leaders of the Islamists now fighting the Somali government have criticized pirates for giving the country a bad name, and for attacking Muslim-owned ships like the Sirius Star.

The Islamists have a memorandum of understanding with us. What they are saying to the media is not their real position. They just want to send a message to their Arab friends who sometimes fund them.

What if the Islamists come back to power?

The Islamists are not homogenous groups, they are heterogeneous. I can guess they'll never come back to power as in 2006, but they can fight one another and create a huge mess. If they did take power, they must restore law and order and create job opportunities for us. If they don't, then piracy will never stop.

How are the Somalipirates organized? Do you all coordinate your actions?

The pirates belong to different groups, but we have umbrella groups. There are two main groups, one in Puntland and the other in south and central Somalia, which is my group. I am a member of the seven top committee members in south and central. We are a group of men with norms and terms, and we respect them.

The pirates holding the Sirius Star have threatened to dump its oil if their demands are not met. Is that a serious threat, and do they realize how much damage that could do not only to Somalia but other countries as well?

Those holding the Sirius Star and the MV Faina I'm aboard now, we are the same group. And we know the risk of spilling the oil shipment. But when evil is the only solution, you do evil. That is why we are doing piracy. I know it is evil, but it is a solution.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Ops Fajar News

Slowly news of what happens in the Gulf of Aden is made public.

Friday January 16, 2009
Anxious moment for heli crew

LUMUT: Confronted by pirates off the Somalia coast was a nerve-wrecking moment for our navy boys.

Commander Sazalee Shoib, commander of the Super Lynx helicopter unit, was watching over the MISC container vessel Bunga Mas Enam which had stalled due to mechanical problems in November last year.

Below, two skiffs (speedboats) filled with the pirates were already near the vessel with six other skiffs rushing to the scene.

Commander Sazalee said there was a possibility that the pirates carried rocket launchers and other weapons.

Kapt Khalid speaking to Commander Sazalee (left) at the Lumut naval base Thursday. The KD Mahawangsa is seen in the background.

So he kept a safe distance but close enough to show the pirates that he meant business.

“Under the rules of engagement, we are not allowed to fire unless fired upon first,” said Commander Sazalee when met at the naval base here yesterday.

The pirates, probably considering their options, decided not to do anything.

After an hour, they retreated upon seeing the warship KD Mahawangsa.

The KD Mahawangsa had sailed to the Gulf of Aden on Sept 7 last year to escort merchant ships plying the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden.

A filepic of the warship escorting the MISC trade vessel to its destination.

One of its mission was to escort the Bunga Mas Enam and another merchant ship to Djibouti, Soma­lia.

KD Mahawangsa commanding officer Kapt Khalid Jaafar said the container vessel had fallen an hour behind due to the mechanical failure. The vessel’s crew then radioed in to say that eight skiffs were approaching the vessel.

“I decided to send the Super Lynx team (to watch over the vessel) while we make our way back to the vessel,” Kapt Khalid said.

He said it was an anxious moment for him and his crew.

The KD Mahawangsa returned to base here on Dec 17 and was replaced by the KD Sri Inderasakti.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Collateral Damage Or Just Plain Baby Killing

I have mentioned before that I no longer have the werewithal to write about the atrocities that is happening in the land of Philistines. Thus I am happy to find the following article that accurately express my feelings. So like most of us, I am taking the easy way out and re-producing the article in the whole, may it at least make more of us understand what is really at stake here.

Lifefocus Sunday January 11, 2009


Do what thou will, but people, leave them kids alone!

OKAY, time for a rant. Don’t expect a well-reasoned argument or a nuanced stance. Don’t even expect coherence or professional wordcraft here. Forget about journalistic objectivity or a professional code of ethics, seeing both sides of the story or walking in another man’s moccasins. I don’t care about the supposed political complexities, cultural sensitivities or historical subtleties.

Not when you start killing innocent people. Especially not when you start killing children.

A few years ago, when I was at the Asia News Network – the alliance of leading English dailies in Asia, including The Star – one of my colleagues did a special report on the use of child soldiers in conflicts across the region. Most of these centred on Indo-Chinese nations, but it also included reports on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or the Tamil Tigers, in Sri Lanka abducting children to train them to kill.

When you take children away from their families, put guns in their hands, and tell them to kill other people for the glory of your cause, you’ve lost all moral standing. Your cause is lost with me. You don’t deserve victory.

An Associated Press article published in The Star on Thursday reported that out of the 75 people killed in Israeli attacks on Palestine, only five were confirmed militants. That’s right, 70 were civilians: Innocent men, women, and children. As of that date, more than 300 of the 670 Palestinians killed since Israel began its aggressive military campaign on Dec 27 were civilians.

And at least 130 were children aged 16 or below.

And we’re not even talking about the strike on the school earlier this week. The Israelis said that Hamas militants were taking refuge there, but can’t explain why many of the bodies pulled out of the rubble were that of teenaged boys and children.

Oh yes, Hamas started it by raining rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israeli targets. I don’t care. You’ve killed children. Toddlers and infants. Your justifications ran out there.

And if Hamas militants were using children as shields hoping that their enemies had a modicum of morality and plain old human decency, then yeah, both sides have gained my greater contempt as well.

The Israelis and the Palestinians are not the only ones. There are the Americans and their few allies in the war to destroy Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass distraction, air strikes against Afghan wedding parties, and the Western media’s pandering to such atrocities by allowing the US military to describe them as collateral damage.

See, I don’t care if there were glitches in your stupid “smart weapons”, or that your intelligence gathering was just plain dumb. There’s no excuse.

Their enemies are as much to blame, whether they are Muslim, Christian, free-thinking, or atheistic terrorists. When you plant a bomb knowing that innocent people are going to be killed, then you deserve the Gitmo treatment.

In a message to world leaders, Jordan’s Queen Rania Al Abdullah, who is Unicef’s (the United Nations Children’s Fund) Eminent Advocate for Children, said: “Our humanity is incomplete when children, irrespective of nationality, are victims of military operations.”

“More than 70 dead children, close to 600 injured,” she said, referring to the Gaza death toll. “What does the world tell their mothers? That they are collateral damage? That their lives don’t matter? That their deaths don’t count?”

The United Nations and the International Court of Justice should just get off their asses and declare this simple truth: That any combatant who harms children in any conflict under any circumstances whatsoever is guilty of crimes against humanity. They should be hauled off to face justice. They should be treated no better than the Nazi war criminals were.

And the same goes for those who support them ideologically, militarily, financially, or politically.

This is not an issue about religion, despite how some are painting it. No, neither are these atrocities against the Muslim world, despite what some politicians say. Such beliefs have led to a mess of misconceived statements and intentions, such as boycotting American products or sending in the troops to fight for a regime that doesn’t have an exactly spotless conscience either.

No, this is a humanitarian issue. It’s as simple as this: There is a bunch of people killing children.

What is the world community – what are we – going to do about it?

A. Asohan, New Media Editor at The Star, can’t think of anything else to say.

Can we at least pray the DOA QUNUT NAZILAH AT LEAST?

اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِنَا فِيمَنْ هَدَيْتَ ، وَعَافِنَا فِيمَنَ عَافَيْتَ ، وتَوَلَّنَا فِيمَنْ تَوَلَّيْتَ، وَبَارِكْ لَنَا فِيمَا أَعْطَيْتَ ، وَقِنَا شَرَّ مَا قَضَيْتَ ، إِنَّكَ تَقْضِي وَلا يُقْضَى عَلَيْكَ ،وَإِنَّهُ لا يَذِلُّ مَنْ وَالَيْتَ ، تَبَارَكْتَ وَتَعَالَيْتَ

Allahumma inna nasta’inuka wa nastaghfiruka, wa nu’minu bika, wa natawwakkalu alayika, wa nusni alayikal khaira, wa nashkuruka wa la nakforuka wa nakhla’u wa natruku manyafjoruk. Allahumma iyyaka na’budu wa laka nusalli wa nasjudu wa ilayika nasa wa nahfidu, wa narju Rahmataka wa nakhsha ‘adhzabaka; inna adhabaka al-jidda bi al-kuffari mulhiq

O Allah! We seek Your assistance and ask for Your guidance, and we beseech Your forgiveness and return to You in repentance. We cherish faith in You and place our trust in You. We attribute all goodness to You. We are grateful to You and refuse to be ungrateful to You. We abandon and forsake all those who reject You. O Allah, You alone we worship, unto You alone we pray; unto You alone we prostrate, and for You alone we strive. Unto You alone we flee for refuge. We cherish hope in Your mercy and we fear Your retribution. Verily, Your punishment is bound to catch up with those who reject the truth.

“Ya Allah, berilah kami petunjuk sebagaimana orang-orang yang telah Engkau beri petunjuk. Selamatkanlah kami dalam golongan orang-orang yang Engkau telah pelihara. Uruslah kami di antara orang-orang yang telah Engkau urus. Berkahilah kami dalam segala sesuatu yang Engkau telah berikan. Hindarkanlah kami dari segala bahaya yang Engkau telah tetapkan. Sesungguhnya Engkaulah yang menentukan dan bukan yang ditentukan. Sesungguhnya tidak akan jadi hina orang yang telah Engkau lindungi. Engkau wahai Rabb kami adalah Maha Mulia dan Maha Tinggi.” (HR Thabrani 3/123)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Earning Their Per Diem

Looks like the crew and special forces men on board KD Inderasakti are earning their combat pay in this phase of Ops Fajar as it has been announced that their Fennec Helicopter has again gone to the assistance of another merchantman in the dangerous waters of the Gulf of Aden. It seems this time our mission has entered a more dangerous phase in their convoy escort duties, as the Somalian pirates are putting more efforts in their hijacking efforts before the full brunt of international navies that are sending their ships for policing duties in the waters takes effect. Thus it seems too bad if the Navy really stop this operations at the end of next month, just as the international community takes stride in dealing with the problem. This decision should be re-considered as we may not want to see our merchantmen requesting other nations' convoys when we stop our own convoys, as it would be easier to request a quid pro quo entry into other nation's convoy when other nations' merchantmen also take advantage of our own convoys as illustrated by these articles on the rescue effort.

Friday January 2, 2009


PETALING JAYA: The Royal Malaysian Navy experienced its first combat in the new year when its Fennec helicopter drove off two pirate skiffs pursuing Indian crude oil tanker MT Abul Kalam Azad in the dangerous pirate-infested Gulf of Aden.

KD Sri Inderasakti commanding officer Kapt Mohamad Adib Abdul Samad received a distress call at 6.30am (local time) from the Indian vessel. The vessel, with 40 crew members, was heading for the Suez Canal with a full load of crude oil, said RMN Fleet Operations Commander vice-admiral Datuk Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin yesterday.

During the 40-minute combat, seven pirates on board the two skiffs were shooting rapidly at the tanker damaging the bridge, ship quarters and the radar, he said.

To the rescue: The RMN Fennec helicopter gunship (above) drove off two pirate skiffs pursuing the Indian crude oil tanker Abul Kalam Azad (inset) in the dangerous pirate-infested Gulf of Aden.

“It was a tense morning,” he said. “Sri Inderasakti received the SOS call from the Abul Kalam Azad about 15 nautical miles away at the time,” he added. In rapid response, Kapt Mohamad Adib dispatched the ship-borne Fennec helicopter gunship armed with twin general purpose machine guns and an elite Naval Special Forces (Paskal) airborne sniper.

“The Abul Kalam Azad was also advised to make its way toward our ship for better protection. Sri Inderasakti too had turned and was heading to the scene by then,” Ahmad Kamarulzaman said. The Fennec, piloted by Leftenan Muliadi Mohd Noor reached the scene where the two skiffs were chasing the tanker and shooting at it with assault rifles. A Saudi Arabian navy vessel HMS Al Dammam, believed to be part of the European Union’s Coalition Task Force 150, had also dispatched its own Dauphin helicopter gunship at this point, he added.

Both ships took turns to deter the pirates while giving the oil tanker cover, he said, adding that the skiffs then escaped south-east. The vessel then headed west, escorted by the Al Dammam. The encounter was the second time the Sri Inderasakti helped to foil hijack attempts by pirates in the gulf, the first one being the Chinese crane vessel Zhenhua 4 on Dec 18.

By : Marc Lourdes and Joseph Sipalan

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia once again charged to the rescue of a cargo-laden ship in the pirate-plagued Gulf of Aden.

Yesterday, less than two weeks after rescuing a Chinese vessel from being plundered, the Malaysian navy saved an Indian tanker, MT Abul Kalam Azad, from a similar fate.The 92,000-tonne vessel was sailing in the gulf at 11.37am (Malaysian time) when it was attacked by pirates in two skifs.One of the boats had seven men in it, all armed with machine guns. They unleashed a barrage of fire at the bridge and accommodation area of the ship. They also tried to board it, all the while keeping up the attack.However, the ship began taking evasive measures and increased speed to the maximum. This was also when it issued a distress signal, which was picked up by Malaysian navy support ship KD Sri Indera Sakti about 15 nautical miles away.

Upon receiving the signal, commanding officer Capt Mohamad Adib Abdul Samad despatched a helicopter, reaching the tanker in less than 10 minutes.The helicopter was outfitted with a general purpose machine gun and also a sniper from the Paskal naval commando unit.The Malaysian helicopter was joined by a Dauphine-type helicopter of the Saudi Arabian navy, effectively scaring off the pirates.The captain of the Abul Kalam Azad had initially requested to join the Malaysian International Shipping Corporation convoy, escorted by the Sri Indera Sakti, but later accepted the offer from a Saudi Arabian naval ship to escort it to its destination.

International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre head Noel Choong said the crew of the Abul Kalam Azad reported seeing the pirates in military-style garb.However, asked if this could mean that the Somali military was involved in piracy, he was non-committal."It is hard to say because this is the first time we are hearing such a report." Choong said the increase in naval activity in the Gulf of Aden was making piracy increasingly difficult and this was causing pirates to become more desperate to get their hands on any ships they could."We wish to remind all ships to keep strict visual and radar watch because it is the only way they can escape." Asked if the gloomy global economic forecast for this year would result in an increase in piracy, he said it would not make much difference in African waters."Somalia, for example, is already poor and in bad shape. There is no deterrent to pirates there and, as long as there is no deterrent, attacks will increase anyway."However, in the Straits of Malacca, there are many poor people who will be affected badly. We don't know if it will be as bad as in 1997 (when piracy was rampant in the Straits of Malacca), but we can see that Indonesia is already stepping up patrols now." Choong urged the authorities to beef up patrols, especially in the Straits of Malacca, the South China Sea and in Bangladeshi and Indonesian waters.

Malaysian helicopter saves ship from Somali pirates

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 1, 2009) : A Malaysian military helicopter, taking off from a warship sailing nearby, scared away Somali pirates trying to hijack an Indian vessel in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said.

The incident, the first of 2009, involved an Indian ship with a dead weight tonnage of 92,687 tonnes, said Noel Choong, an official from the Kuala Lumpur-based IMB."Two small boats carrying pirates came close to the Indian vessel and started firing on the bridge and the accommodation area," Choong told Reuters.

"The pirates tried to board the vessel repeatedly but failed, as the captain maneuvered the ship and increased its speed." A Malaysian warship, KD Sri Indera Sakti, which was about 15 nautical miles from the area, responded to the Indian vessel's distress calls and sent a helicopter which scared the pirates away, Choong said.

"We have been told that all crew members are safe, while the damage to the vessel is being assessed," said Choong, without saying how many crew were on board.

Last week, quick action by a German warship halted an attack on an Egyptian bulk carrier, while a Chinese commercial vessel was helped by a Malaysian warship earlier in December, he said.

The rescues are a sign that foreign navies patrolling the key shipping lane linking Europe and Asia are adopting more effective tactics against the surge in piracy in waters off Somalia. "Despite the increased naval presence, the pirates are still finding loop holes to attack ships like this, highlighting the need for more effective anti-piracy measures," said Choong. The rise in attacks on shipping prompted NATO ships to begin anti-piracy operations off the Somali coast in October, joined by other nations such as China and India.

In 2008, 111 ships were reported to have been attacked and 42 hijacked, Choong said. Fourteen of the hijacked vessels and more than 240 crew members are still being held by pirates. Nearly 20,000 ships pass through the Gulf of Aden each year on their way to and from the Suez Canal. - Reuters

Wah Now They Are Front Page News Eh?

How fickle minded some of our editors can be such as the one from this newspaper whose article is featured below. They have been very silent about our navy's operations in Somalia recently but all of a sudden gave the navy's efforts in the Gulf of Aden the front-page treatment only after it transpired that our naval men stationed in the area on KD Inderasakti was instrumental in rescuing one of vessels that was being hijacked by the Somalia pirates. This after they chose not to feature any news about the return of one the Navy's ship that had operated in the area for more than 92 days, with the men missing three major festivals that they could have made a human angled story from, that was replaced by the ship that they are now toasting for their rescue efforts. At least the other newspapers were consistent in their reporting like the article published here.
Saturday December 20, 2008


PETALING JAYA: Armed Somali pirates that boarded Chinese crane ship Zhenhua 4 were about to blow the bridge wide open when the Royal Malaysian Navy came to the rescue. Nine pirates ran helter-skelter without firing a single shot after there were surprised by the twin machineguns of KD Sri Inderasakti’s Fennec helicopter gunship.

The crew on the Zhenghua 4 had earlier locked themselves on the bridge and held off the pirates, which came on two skiffs, for several hours.The Fennec gunship’s response was the first time an aircraft was deployed to engage pirates holding a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden. RMN Fleet Operations Commander Vice-Admiral Datuk Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin said the Sri Inderasakti was in the right place and the right time in the pirate-menaced Gulf of Aden on Wednesday when it received a distress call from Zhenhua 4.

Pirates on the loose: Pirate boats (top) being seen near the Chinese ship ‘Zhenhua 4’ in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday in this handout photo, while the Chinese vessel’s crew (right) prepare to attempt to repel boarders. — Reuters

“And the response from Sri Inderasakti’s response was swift,” he added.Relating the incident, Ahmad Kamarulzaman said that the RMN ship received the distress call from the Chinese ship at 8.30am (local time).“Commanding officer Kapt Mohamad Adib Abdul Samad immediately despatched the Fennec gunship. “At the same time, a request from the European Union’s CTF150 taskforce also came in for us to lend assistance and do whatever was necessary to deter the pirates because we were the nearest vessel to the Zhenhua 4,” he told The Star when contacted in Singapore. Covering 45 nautical miles at 80 knots per hour, the Fennec piloted by Leftenan Muliadi Mohd Noor and air quartermaster Petty Officer Haniffaa Haironi reached Zhenhua 4 in less than 15 minutes.

“After quickly assessing the situation, Haniffaa fired several warning shots across the bow of the Zhenhua 4. This created panic among the pirates,” he said.One of the pirates’ skiffs also sank in the battle but not from the Fennec’s gunfire, said Ahmad Kamarulzaman.

Not long after, Dutch warship HDMS Absalon of the European Union’s CTF150 taskforce arrived to escort the Zhenhua 4 to its destination.Ahmad Kamarulzaman said that the RMN is sure that there were other pirate vessels in the area as the gunship crew saw what they believed to be the “mother ship.”.

The Inderasakti had taken over from the KD Mahawangsa on Dec 12 in the ongoing Ops Fajar to safeguard Malaysian merchant vessels plying the dangerous Gulf of Aden.

Unheralded Until Shit Happens!

It is ironic that after my previous post, it has come to light that on the day our brave men on KD Mahawangsa came back from their deployment unheralded by the media, the naval vessel that took up their stations in the pirate infested waters of Somalia was called into action to save a Chinese merchant vessel, beating off the pirates with shots from the ship and her helicopter. Only now are our media trumpeting the effort to the public after the fact. Sadly KD Inderasakti herself could not save Malaysia's own ship that was hijacked on the same day, but with only one vessel in the area what do you expect when the so-called Naval Coalition in the area admitted themselves that they do not have enough ships to effectively cover the whole area in order to keep the ships transiting the area from harm. Anyway this incident marks the first time our naval ships has fired in anger in an international operation, and thus proves they have the will and the teeth to do harm if necessary, despite claims of cissyness by some dumb Malaysian bloggers who were disappointed that we did not go in with guns blazing when we rescued the MISC ships. We would not want to repeat the Indian Navy's gung-ho mistake of sinking the victim's ship while the pirates' got away scot free, do we? Especially when the rules of engagement are still not clear, and for those nay-sayers who wonders why we did not manage to capture the pirates themselves, this is the reason why our men did not engage to capture the pirates as your bloodthirsty hearts may have wanted. I quote below :

Enough said eh?

Not Prime News Eh?

I am a bit chuffed because this time the return of KD Mahawangsa from Ops Fajar did not get wide reporting either by the newspapers or TV, especially my favourite TV news Buletin Utama on TV3. Maybe the media did not consider their service of safely escorting Malaysian merchant ships convoys as prime news even though to me personally this service is far more important and strategically significant to our nation's interests than the rescue of our hijacked ships and crew, and it has taken more character and fortitude for our naval men to carry these duties and tasks over the long deployment period. At least I have read in one blog how vital the convoys are for our ships to ensure their safety rather than trying to sail on their in the Gulf of Aden.

September 24th, 2008 by Marsha

Haritu Bi called.. Walaupun dapat cakap lebih 15 minit tapi rasa tak puas sangat.. Bi tengah tunggu TLDM untuk konvoi bersama lalu Teluk Aden.. Pfffftt.. Bi kata semalam nyaris kena kejar dengan lanun Somalia tu so diorg patah balik.. (Translation : That day Bi called..Even though could only talked for 15 minutes but still not so satisfied..Bi is waiting for the RMN convoy through the Gulf of Aden...PFfftt...Bi said yesterday nearly got chased by the Somalian Pirates so they turned back...)

Such personal writing is definitely more interesting than the sterile news reporting like the one below by Bernama eh, which was only picked up in parts by the New Straits Times as a news feature in their today's printed version . Meantime I am left with only photos of KD Mahawangsa's recent berthing in Oman to feature here as accompaniment to this post.

Malaysia Yet To Receive Report On Tug Boat Seizure By Somali Pirates - Rais

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 17 (Bernama) --

Confirming the pirate hijack of a Malaysian tug boat off Yemen yesterday, the National Security Council is now awaiting the latest development on the incident.Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the council had not received any report on the hijack and was worried over the fate of the crew.He said Malaysia had reported the hijack to the United Nations and pressed the need for drastic measures to be taken against Somali pirates."The council is expecting a report either tonight or tomorrow morning," he told reporters after attending the ministry's Excellent Service Awards here.AFP reported that pirates had hijacked a Malaysian tug boat and a Turkish cargo ship yesterday, and attacked three other vessels in the Gulf of Aden in the past week.The tug boat with 11 crew on board was heading to Malaysia from West Asia.In three other incidents last week, Somali pirates attempted to hijack a Singapore tanker, an Italian cargo ship and a Greek ship.Meanwhile, Rais described the United Nations Security Council resolution to combat piracy as "powerless"."Merely announcing it is of no use, it must be followed up with physical force," he said.

In LUMUT, Acting Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) chief Vice-Admiral Datuk Mohammed Noordin Ali said that next February, the RMN would cease ongoing 'Ops Fajar' operations to protect the country's commercial vessels from pirate threats in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia.He said the decision was also agreed upon by Army chief Gen Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Zainal.Mohammed Noordin said any decision to resume operations would depend on the prime minister, defence minister and the National Security Council.He said the decision to stop the operations was mainly due to its exorbitant costs and RMN obliogations to protect the sovereignity of the national waters.Mohammed Noordin said this after receiving RMN vessel 'KD Mahawangsa' which had returned from Ops Fajar at the RMN Lumut base today.Another RMN vessel, 'KD Indera Sakti', is expected to conclude the operation in February.'Ops Fajar' was launched after Malaysian International Shipping Corporation (MISC) vessel MT Bunga Melati Dua was hijacked by Somalian pirates in the Gulf of Aden while heading to Rotterdam from Dumai, Indonesia on Aug 19.Ten days later, another MISC vessel, MT Bunga Melati Lima, with 36 crewmen, was also hijacked while crossing the same waters.Meanwhile, a Wisma Putra source identified the two ships as those of the AMD 1 cargo ship and Masindra 7 tugboat.The source said that a National Security Division meeting was held at 2.30pm today to discuss the matter.No Malaysians were involved in the incident as the crew members of both vessels were Indonesians, he said.-- BERNAMA

Changing Of The Guards For Ops Fajar

KD Mahawangsa Escorting MISC's Eagle Valencia Through The Gulf

Despite what was reported in my earlier blog posting, one defence website has reported that Ops Fajar shall continue even after the return of KD Mahawangsa after more than 92 days of deployment in the Gulf of Aden, successfully escorting more than 36 merchant vessels through the treacherous waters. It is reported that KD Mahawangsa is scheduled to arrive home on 17 December 2008 and is set to be replaced by the KD Inderasakti. It was reported that KD Inderasakti set sail on 1st December 2008 with 204 crew on board together with a seven member army medical team. She will operate in the Gulf for three months until February 2009 as part of the Government's committment to the maintenance of the nation's merchant security while sailing through the Gulf of Aden.

KD Mahawangsa Leading Her Convoy Through The Gulf

In the meantime, KD Mahawangsa has safely escorted the largest tanker in MISC's fleet through the Gulf, the Eagle Valencia that is 333.2 meters long, 66 meters high and 58 meters wide with a deck area equivalent to almost 3 football that has similar dimensions to the the oil tanker that was hijacked by pirates, the Sirius Star. This despite the size of KD Mahawangsa that is quite insignificant to the tonnage of the Eagle Valencia while escorting the convoy she is in, while the photo of the Super Lynx on her deck gives an indication of how large the deck is when even compared to an aircraft carrier in these photos handed out by the Malaysian Navy Fleet Command Public Relations Department. Until KD Mahawangsa arrives home to a grand welcome, all we can do is wish her Bon Voyage while to the crewmen of the KD Inderasakti, we wish them a good and safe deployment in the best traditions of the Navy.

A Super Lynx On Eagle Valencia's Deck Indicating Her Size

Second Batch Of Patrol Vessels To See The Light

It was with a glad heart that I heard and read of the Malaysian Government's decision to go ahead with the building of the second batch of patrol vessels for the Royal Malaysian Navy once the first batch of six vessels has been delivered in 2010. The Prime Minister who is also the Defence Minister announced this at the naming ceremony of the fifth patrol vessel PV Kelantan recently. He said the role of the RMN and other maritime agencies was becoming more challenging following increased threats to safety of navigation in the world's sea lanes.He said the recent hijacking of MISC vessels by pirates in Somalia waters was an indication of how important it was for the RMN to strengthen itself with more combat vessels to face these threats by having more ships. He further states that the patrol vessel project is not only to patrol and defend the sovereignty of our national waters, but for special missions in the strategic waters around the world. It has to be remembered that the RMN's assets has been depleted substantially with the transfer of two and a half squadrons of patrol craft to the Malaysian Coast Guard force that was supposed to be replaced by these patrol vessels, so it is appropriate for the program to be continued to check the navy's shortfall.

As for the status of the first batch of patrol vessels, the first two ships are now in active service with their home base in Sabah, while the second pair is reportedly undergoing their acceptance trials with the third vessel scheduled to enter service around March or April this year. Meanwhile the last ship of the batch was announced to be launched at a similar date this year, so it is most likely that the batch delivery will be finished in 2010 as announced so that construction of the next batch can commenced. It has also been speculated that this second batch vessels will be armed with a new gun combination, either the Bofors 57 mm Mk3 and Millennium GDM-008 (Millennium Gun Weapon System) combination or OTO MELARA 76/62 SR and MARLIN-WS (modular-advanced-remote-controlled weapon station). This will replace the existing OTO MELARA 76/62 SR and OtoBreda FSAF/Mauser 30mm MN 30 GS combination that some claims do not provide adequate air defence for the vessels. After reviewing the specifications of the Marlin WS, it is interesting to note that the manufacturer claims that the weapon can be equipped with point defence missile launchers, giving the vessels an organic missile defence capability at a location other than the fitted for but not with points. Meanwhile the Millennium gun would provide a system capable of engaging fast-moving incoming air targets highly effective and with a high probability of structural kill. Whatever it is, we do need these patrol vessels and fast so here's hoping that there will be no further hurdles to construction programme.