Saturday, December 15, 2012

Another Armed Forces Asset Delivered On Schedule

 Credit : TLDM

I guess you can see the news on the launching of Gagah Samudera in the local defence blogs and articles in the newspapers especially since Utusan Malaysia front-paged the news. Mind you this is not the first combat ship built in Malaysia since MSE built the OPV KD Marikh and Hong-Leong Lurssen Shipyard built the six units of FAC-G Jerung class, The first that can be attributed to this shipbuilding is that it is the first training ship that is mission specific to the RMN as previously the Navy had to use their elderly warships to be converted to training ships while retaining their patrolling functions like the KD Rahmat and KD Tuah at the time. This was not conducive due the lack of space for the extra crewman and proper training facilities as highlighted when KD Tuah had to be deployed to the Gulf of Aden.  That was the choice that had to be made as we could not afford actual Midshipmen Training Ships that the larger navies had in their fleets.

          Credit To Standupper @ Mymil Forum

Nonetheless inversely now the RMN can look forward to having their patrolling fleet strengthened after their small crafts were transferred to the MMEA as these training vessels can also be multi-rolled as basic OPVs although some may say their armaments are limited. Even the CNO in his speech below mentioned that these vessels are being looked at as the FAC replacements, though I believe they are actually actual replacement for the PB squadrons that was similarly lightly armed. But even though the dreaded by some FFNW word was not mentioned, I guess if the vessels are of modular construction, then it should not be a big issue to upgrade the vessels' armaments to full combat specifications.

Meanwhile, Aziz said the completion of the vessel had been long awaited by RMN not only to be used for training but also to patrol and monitor the country's waters.He pointed out that RMN had been waiting for the ship after 27 of its ships were transferred to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency in 2006. "At the moment, we only have K.D. Hang Tuah which is already 46-years old and KLD Tunas Samudera as training ships.

"We hope the government will take into account a proposal to procure another two ships from the company in the 11th Malaysia Plan as the two extra ships can replace RMN's eight fast attack vessels which are almost 40 years old," he said in his speech. - New Straits Time 15 December 2012

I must say thanks to the far-sighted person who decided to change the Navy's initial request for a mixed squadron of 47 metres and 30 metres training boats to these two Offshore Training Vessels as it allowed the Navy to have its cake and eat it too. And to those who doubt and criticise the Armed Forces projects as always being not to schedule, the Master Schedule below should prove that for this project it is on the right track, similar to the CSAR helicopter project. But I doubt this fact will receive much coverage from them.

Credit To Standupper @ Mymil Forum

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Not Even Newsworthy, Just Plain Insulting

I don't want to give free publicity to dumb-arses but not even 24 hours from my previous  post, some arse because he is too lazy to do some research went so far as to insult the mental capacity of The Armed Forces personnel to operate and maintain their new equipment and saying their life is cheap. And yeah he was again flogging the old horse "We have no enemies and not at war, so the Armed Forces don't need new equipment". So do you agree with his assertation that it was okay for the Nuri crashes to have happened as it involved military personnel who should expect to die in service, even when flying in elderly aircraft.

I however respect your mental capacity so if you do come across the referred article, I am sure you can make your own judgement.

Friday, December 7, 2012

What's Newsworthy?

One defence purchase that was hotly ridiculed and politicised previously has been safely delivered and another will be delivered soon earlier than contracted. Do you think the detractors will say good things about this? No way Jose! But just wait-la. If one so-called defence journo starts a speculative story about these purchases like what happened to the Scorpene Can't Dive fiasco, the story will be blown-up and stretched out to fit their purposes and milked to the death even if proof is provided to the contrary.

In the meantime, enjoy more of these exclusive photos in the Mymil forum.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Start Of A New Chapter

Today was the start of a new chapter with the handing over of the first two EC725 to the Royal Malaysian Air Force. If I am not mistaken, the delivery is about two months earlier than contracted delivery date. Kudos RMAF.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Any Comments?

I just want to know if anybody wants to read the article and comment here if any. So will just put the link here and if you want to read please click on the link. Comments welcomed!

Remembering the nation’s fallen warriors

Sunday, October 28, 2012

As Written By Others

And yet some people only believe the nonsense that comes from their political Gods. And I have put in bold the confirmation that our Dolphins beat the French at the wargames as I posted here before.

Brave men of the sea

Our very own: ‘KD Tunku Abdul Rahman’ docking at the Kota Kinabalu Naval base at Teluk Sepanggar . 
Our very own: ‘KD Tunku Abdul Rahman’ docking at the Kota Kinabalu Naval base at Teluk Sepanggar .
It takes men of exceptional valour to serve in a tin can that dives 300m deep and even braver ones to stay there for a prolonged period of time.
TO many people of my generation our knowledge about submarines comes from the TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and I dare say that many submariners today, the world over, owed their occupation to that show.

The series ran for four years, from Sept 14, 1964 to March 31 1968, in the United States making it longer than the original Star Trek which was on the air for only three seasons.

While many astronauts look to Star Trek as their inspiration, many navies throughout the world can thank Voyage’s lead actors Richard Basehart and David Hendison, who played the admiral and commander of SSRN Seaview respectively in the show, for the enlistment of their submariners.

So it was great pride when Malaysia’s first submarine KD Tunku Abdul Rahman arrived at the Navy Base in Lumut from Toulon in 2009. The second submarine KD Tun Abdul Razak came home a year later.

So Malaysia now has two submarines – Perdana Class Scorpene – that sailed home right into controversy with accusations ranging from corruption to poor quality. The pride of the navy was hurt especially when politicians started questioning a submarine that could not dive because of some initial technical issues.

Last week, the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) invited about 100 newsmen, including yours truly, to see for themselves the KD Tunku Abdul Rahman docked at the Kota Kinabalu Naval base at Teluk Sepanggar in the Sabah capital.

Navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar threw a grand welcome and opened up almost all of the base, which is the Naval Sea Region 2 headquarters, to the newsmen as they went from the submarine simulator, shooting range, visiting KD Kedah and KD Perak patrol vessels and finally KD Tunku Abdul Rahman or KD TAR as its men called it.

Admiral Aziz and his merrymen did not hide behind any Official Secrets Act and took all questions. “I run a tight but open ship,” said the affable Admiral Aziz who apologised profusely for not being able to take us out for a dive in the KD TAR. “We would take a few hours to prepare the submarine and we have to go out 16km into the sea before we can safely dive. We would not have been able to accommodate everyone.”

The original plan was for the navy to take us to Temburu Layang-Layang so that we could see KD TAR in operation but because of the heightened territorial disputes between the littoral states, the Government on the advice of the Foreign Ministry asked that such a trip be postponed.

However, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi and Admiral Aziz were just itching to show off their latest technology. Also on hand to welcome us and show us around were First Admiral Abdul Rahman Ayob, who was the original project team leader in 2002 when the procurement was first inked and Captain Zul Helmy Ithinain, the first commanding officer of KD TAR. These two men were among the first Malaysians to receive their Dolphins insignia but they had to look on longingly as the sub’s present CO Commander Zahri Mohamad took us around the ship.

Kmr Zahri showed us not only his private room, the torpedoes, missiles, engine room, command centre, the crew sleeping quarters and the most important part of the vessel – the galley (or the kitchen to us civilians). “Our main problems in a submarine are weight and space,” said F/Admiral Rahman. To solve both, F/Admiral Rahman revealed that food became the main solution.

Tight space meant that moral needs had to be kept high at all times and one of the best ways was to ensure good food. There are no army rations for the submariners, they have a specialist cook who can rustle up great meals anytime. However, the Asian staple diet of rice is limited to only once in every three days because rice is heavy, said F/Admiral Rahman who is said to be quite a mean cook himself. According to friends, this son of Johor cooks up a Nasi Beryani Gam to die for.

The front of the submarine houses the torpedo and missile room which is at the moment are also used to billet the fresh batch of trainees – all of whom are qualified naval men who have volunteered for the job. Capt Zul Helmy readily admits that its not a job for the faint hearted. While other neighbouring navies shipped back their submarines, Capt Zul Helmy and his 35-man crew sailed the vessel back from the French naval base in Toulon, France to Lumut in an eventful 54-day journey. But before they left, KD TAR took on a French nuclear submarine in a war games contest and won 10 times out of 10.

“Our diesel submarines are among the best and quietest in the world. We can hold up against the best,” said Admiral Aziz, adding that those who criticised the project did not understand the significance of the tactical use of submarines in protecting our waters. The entire submarine squadron consists mainly of officers and all of them volunteered for their assignment. Not surprisingly the lingua franca of the unit is English. “Like any military troop in the world the weapons and systems are only as good as the personnel using it.

“Our Royal Malaysian Navy deserves the support and not the brick-bats that have been thrown at us. We are doing this to serve the nation,” said the Navy chief.
> Executive editor Wong Sai Wan despite his apprehension looks forward to going underwater with the brave officers and men of KD TAR.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Who Said The Seawolf Cannot Hunt?

Another successful exercise that has demonstrated what the naysayers had said are just hogwash.

TLDM sekali lagi membuktikan tahap kesiagaannya di tahap tertinggi dengan kejayaan penembakan peluru berpandu atau misil dari permukaan ke sasaran udara (surface to air) di Perairan Selat Melaka pada 23 Oktober 2012.  Penembakan kontraktual misil jenis Vertical Launch Seawolf  (VLSW) ini telah dilancarkan dari platform kapal Kelas Frigat, Kapal Diraja (KD) LEKIU ke sasaran udara TGX-2 yang ditunda oleh pesawat Learjet 35A.

For Full Article and still pictures please click ==> PELANCARAN MISIL SEAWOLF, BUKTI KESIAGAAN TINGGI TLDM

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Political Military Foot-In-Mouth-Ism

I rarely want to comment on politikuses comments on military matters as it makes me more want to cry rather than smirk at their ignorance. I only do so when it is proven that what they claim is totally wrong or even can be called an outright lie. Thus far I have only commented in forums that after my research there has never been a trial in France on the alleged improprities in the Scorpene purchase, but since this is already coming from the source, might as well post it here to show who has been actually been inflicted by the disease in the title of this post.

October 08, 2012 17:27 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 8 (Bernama) -- A prominent French Government prosecutor has denied reports circulating among some Malaysian online news portals of an ongoing trial in France, on allegations of corruption by a French company over the purchase of two French-made Scorpene submarines by Malaysia in 2002.

Yves Charpenel said the media in Malaysia should be able to distinguish between rumours and facts, and between investigations and a trial.

"I am aware about all the fuss kicked up by certain media (organisations) in Malaysia over this matter but what I can say is that this is nothing more than a trial by the media," he told Bernama here today.

Charpenel, who was a former head of prosecution in France and now a state prosecutor and an executive member of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA), was here to attend the four-day IAACA conference and general meeting which ended yesterday.

Following a complaint filed in 2009 by Suaram, a Malaysian human rights non-governmental organisation (NGO), that a French company had allegedly paid bribes to a Malaysian firm for the submarine deal, he revealed that two independent "investigating judges" started their investigations earlier this year.

Charpenel said that in France, as in other countries practising the rule of law, all investigations were done in absolute secret.

He said, it was anybody's right to file a complaint and due to the secret nature of the investigations, some resorted to complaining to the media.

He explained that for specific cases in France, the Justice Ministry would ask an independent judge, called an "investigating judge", to investigate.

"He is just an investigator. This is an old system that started from the Napolean era. If the investigating judge wants someone to come to Malaysia, he has to ask from your government because we have what is called the Treaty of Mutual Legal Assistance. And the Malaysian government can say 'yes' or 'no'.

It has to be decided by the Malaysian authorities.

"A French investigating judge cannot take his luggage, take a plane and go to Malaysia and ask someone to answer his questions. It is impossible, it is against the French law and it is also against international law," stressed Charpenel.

He pointed out that in France, as elsewhere, the course of justice would not be dictated by the media.

As he put it,"In France, the time of justice is different from the time in media. Of course, the media needs data, information, news. It's natural but the investigation is quite different. This is exactly the same, whether in France or in Malaysia.

"And, it has to be secret. We are now in the first step, maybe, we got another step, maybe not, and it is quite early to say more."

Asked about media reports that French lawyers representing Suaram in the suit would be coming to Malaysia to brief their clients, Charpenel said any lawyer from any country was free to do so because he was paid by his clients.

"He can speak freely to the press, that's freedom or human rights. But he is not a prosecutor. He is not an investigating judge. He is not an official."

In April this year, local Opposition politicians here had even called for Malaysian officials to testify in Paris or risk being ostracised in the European Union.

"A trial is a trial with all the rules. Investigation is another thing," said Charpenel of the misinformation generated by certain news portals over allegations that a trial was already underway.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi also said over the weekend that the Auditor-General had declared the Scorpene deal was done in accordance with legal procedures.


So can we still consider statements like this as valid?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Yes Our Armed Forces Have Fangs!

Oh yeah we do. Nice video of the Armed Forces on going EX-Angsa live firing exercise. I love the MM40 slow mo launch sequence and the delayed fuse target explosion. Kudos ATM!

Credit : RMN Webmaster

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Another Potential AV8 30mm RCWS?

Although I speculated that the 30mm RCWS to be supplied with the AV8 could be of South African origin as per my posting previously, would this new system from BAE Systems could actually be it? Would not be so farfetched to me since the silence on this matter is deafening no?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rotan Dah Ada, Buat Apa Nak Akar Reput

Edited : Correct Frigate Picture thanks to Mr Ahnaf

Ingatkan hari tu nak buat cerita ni untuk Hari Merdeka tapi boleh lah nak buat lanjutan ke post awal yang ini fasal cadangan pembelian frigat kelas OHP tempohari.

Alangkah terkejutnya saya membaca berita yang terbukti Tentera Laut Filipina sudah memulakan perbincangan untuk membeli kapal kelas Maestrale Tentera Laut Itali seperti dikomen oleh En. Feizal di post tersebut. Ini adalah seperti diberitakan oleh suratkhabar Filipina ini.

Cuba bandingkan kemampuan kapal Maestrale ni dengan kapal OHP yang kita dikatakan berminat tu dari segi persenjataan sahaja.
Kelas Frigat Maestrale.

  • Anti-air missiles:
    1x 8 round SAM launcher (24x Aspide missiles)
  • Anti-ship missiles:
    4x Teseo Mk2 (Otomat)
  • Guns:
    1x 127-mm 54-cal. OTO Melara DP (main gun)
    2x 40mm Oto Melara Dardo Twin 40L70
  • ASW:
    2x fixed 533-mm torpedo launchers (8x WASS A-184 torpedoes)
    2x triple 324-mm Mk 32 Mod. 9 torpedo tubes (12x U.S. Mk 46 Mod. 5 torpedoes)

Frigat kelas OHP

Two triple Mark 32 Anti-submarine warfare torpedo tubes with Mark 46 or Mark 50 anti-submarine warfare torpedoes

One OTO Melara 76 mm/62 caliber naval gun

One 20 mm Phalanx CIWS rapid-fire cannon

Sekilas pandang pun kita boleh lihat yang mana satu lebih berkemampuan kan. Walaupun harganya untuk dua unit dikatakan dalam USD280 juta, tapi kalau berbaloi apa salahnya kerana pihak Filipina sendiri sedang merundingkan harganya. Berdasarkan laporan Jane's di bawah, ada kemungkinan bajet Filipina terlalu rendah untuk cadangan pembelian tersebut kalau harga USD280 juta sebelum ini adalah benar.
Philippines puts price tag on ex-Italian frigates

The Philippines Department of National Defence has requested a budget allocation of USD60 million to purchase two second-hand Maestrale-class frigates from Italy. The price tag was disclosed by Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on 22 August, when he formally informed the House of Representatives' appropriations committee of a proposed 2013 defence budget of PHP121.6 billion (USD2.9 billion), a 7.6 per cent increase on 2012's budget of PHP113 billion

[first posted to - 23 August 2012]
Kalau pembelian ini tak menjadi, apa salahnya kita pula berbincang untuk membelinya fasal bagi saya ini adalah rotan yang lebih berharga dari akar Amerika tu. Kalau diteruskan pembelian akar Amerika tu, silap-silap saya pula menyokong kenyataan mereka yang sebelum ni suka mengkritik tanpa alasan yang kukuh. Fikir-fikirkanlah kenapa agaknya Menteri Petahananan anak didik Amerika ni sendiri berkata sebegini walaupun sepatutnya mereka lebih mudah untuk mendapatkan akar Amerika itu seperti dikatakan dalam laporan ini.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin had earlier said the military wants to acquire additional naval craft from Italy.

“We are not totally relying on the United States (for) our equipment acquisitions. We are also looking at the possibility of getting some of our equipment from Europe, specifically from Italy, depending on our budget,” he added.

Tapi kalaulah pihak Filipina dapat juga membeli frigat Maestrale ini dengan bajet USD60 juta mereka, memang kita telah melakukan kesilapan besar melepaskan peluang sebegini bagi diri saya. Wallahualam!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Apakah Erti Kemerdekaan?

"Negara lain terlalu inginkan kemerdekaan, jangan pula kita sia-siakan kemerdekaan"
- Sentuhan Belacan.

Dari Rakyat Untuk Rakyat.

So This Is The Merdeka You Are Looking For?

This is my true flag and we won it without any bloodshed. But if it takes otherwise to keep it flying, I am ready and willing and I am sure there are many like me. Try us! MERDEKA! MERDEKA! MERDEKA!

Sincerely I did not expect to write this for my Merdeka posting. But since some ungrateful punks dared to do as shown on this photo during the Merdeka eve, so be it.

Don't they know the flag they are glorifying the so-called Sang Saka Malaya is based on the Indonesian Sang Saka Merah Putih and the Netherland's defaced flag during their Independence? And they dare say the current flag is a copy?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Happy Ei-Dul Fitri.

Maaf Zahir Batin Kepada Semua. Selamat Menyambut Syawal yang Mulia.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Let's Remember!

History not learned is history that is on its way to be repeated. Let's watch this movie together!

Friday, July 20, 2012

So Is This The RCWS On The AV8?

Even though it was announced that there will be 54 RCWS supplied for the AV8 project as per my previous post, it was not actually informed what is the RCWS that will be supplied by Denel. A quick check on Denel's website shows that they do not actually offer such RCWS sets.

Nonetheless I have heard on good authority from a fellow forum member that these RCWS are going to be supplied from another South African defence company, Reutech Solutions. This is supposedly the Land Rogue already selected by the South African Armed Forces. This is a remote-controlled weapon consisting of a stabilised firing platform, operated from inside an armoured vehicle for increased protection that offers gun options from 7.62mm, 12.7mm machine guns and a 20mm cannon in the case of Super Rogue. An interesting fact is they also offer an ATGW armed version, the Missile Rogue armed with four ready to fire missiles and a 12,7mm machine gun for close protection.

If this information snippet is true, then the weaponary will make the AV8 a most interesting and potent battle taxi indeed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Traitorous Rat!

I only refer to other Defence blog posts if I feel the story needs to be spread, and this one really fits the bill. Just for political expediency, the very people entrusted to safeguard a project to protect our National Defence secrets has a rat amongst them who leaked a story so that some Politikus can play a game of upmanship with national security. If ever that rat is located, hang him high will you and I stand by my word unlike some.

Read it all here.

Norway Carlos Oscar…

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Finally Some News On AV8 Progress

Denel of South Africa had announced that they had signed a contract to supply turrets and integrated weapon systems to be fitted on the AV8.

This means that out of the 257 initial units, 123 units are the Armoured Fighting Vehicles(AFVs) with two man 30mm or 30mm/ATGW turret variants while 54 are the Armoured Command Vehicle/AFVs/AFV-Surveillance/Armoured Vehicle Signal and Armoured Engineer NBC Reconnaissance Vehicle that are fitted with RCW system as stated below.

As such of the remaining 80 units, it remains to be seen how many will be the 25mm armed AFV and 120 mm mortar armed Armoured Mortar Carriers in addition to the rest of the support variants of the AV8. With about half of the units are to be well armed with 30mm cannons, it now seems justified for the Army to have requested to have 12 variants of the AV8 to be produced despite initial public misgivings.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Navy Exhibition

The National Hydrographic Centre will hold an open day this weekend in Klang. Those who would like an opportunity to visit such a facility, this is your chance to do so.

As stated in the banner, there are a lot activities that you can participate in. However the best attraction will be the static display of the Navy's own Super Lynx helicopter where you can get up close and personal on board KD Kelantan helipad. Therefore you also can make a ship visit to a Kedah class Patrol Vessel at the same time.

Opening hours are from 9:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m and the location is as follows at PUSAT HIDROGRAFI NEGARA (PHN), Pulau Indah

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Just Take Note la!

If you can recall, our Navy and Armed Forces usually get over heavy comments by the general public for incidents that affect our military assets. I personally am of the opinion that if the Standard Operating Procedures has been adhered to, if shit happens, shit happens! That is what a court-martial is supposed to do, to find out who to partition the blame if any, and those uninformed are just making useless allegations otherwise.

The reason I am writing this is to say who are we to blame our military men for such incidents without investigations, when unheard of reasons may be the cause of incidents that cause great losses.

A case in point, a recent mishap affecting the great US Navy that may have happened as a result of all things, a vacuum cleaner malfunction.

US Navy blames vacuum cleaner for submarine fire

A fire that caused damage estimated at USD400 million to one of the US Navy's Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarines probably started inside a vacuum cleaner, according to early findings. Officials at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, said on 6 June that it was likely that the vacuum cleaner had sucked up an unidentified "heat source", which had then ignited other debris in the appliance

[first posted to - 14 June 2012]

and the news of the incident itself

Submarine fire caused deciding senator to miss biofuel vote

The US Senate Armed Services Committee's final action on the Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) defence authorisation bill narrowly approved provisions to severely restrict the Pentagon's ability to invest in or use biofuels because the deciding vote was not cast due to a submarine fire. Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine who usually votes with committee Democrats in support of renewable energy measures, left the closed hearing room in the midst of roll call votes on 24 May to participate in a conference call with the commander of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine, where a Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine, drydocked in the third month of a 20-month overhaul, had been ablaze since the evening before

[first posted to - 31 May 2012]

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Kalau Nak Akar Pun, Biarlah Yang Elok

Saya berada di Lumut baru-baru ni dan sekarang barulah saya faham kenapa tentera laut kita mungkin berkehendakkan tambahan aset kombatan dengan kadar segera. Untuk menjaga status sebenar yang bagi saya bersifat OSA, maka tak perlulah saya nyatakan kenapa ya. (Aku siap tulis dalam BM biar orang asing kurang perasan weh).

Tetapi saya cuma nak menyampaikan komen; walaupun pepatah Melayu ada mengatakan "Tiada Rotan, Akar Pun Berguna", tapi janganlah sampai akar nak digunakan tu dari jenis yang sudah nak mereput dan tidak mampu nak bertahan lama. lebih-lebih lagi kalau kegunaan lebih bersifat sementara dalam keadaan yang belum betul-betul dalam keperluan terdesak.

Khusus untuk cadangan perolehan frigat jenis OHP yang mungkin boleh diperolehi dengan kadar segera kerana bersifat 'hot transfer', perhati-perhatikanlah komentar anak-anak kapal jenis itu sendiri berkenaan pengendalian dan pengoperasian kapal itu, walaupun rencananya diolah untuk menunjukkan manfaat kepada anak-anak kapal yang mengendalikan kapal uzur itu sendiri.

Model of Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate

Keeping frigates running no easy feat for crews

By Mark D. Faram - Staff Writer
Posted : Tuesday May 29, 2012 8:44:58 EDT

ABOARD THE FRIGATE ELROD — There’s a gritty pride among those who serve aboard the Navy’s oldest class of warships — unloved by the brass but babied by their crews.

When something breaks, as things frequently do, it’s a training opportunity. Shrinking crews mold well-rounded sailors. And the cramped quarters build tighter bonds among shipmates.

Welcome to the “Ghetto Navy” — a badge sailors aboard the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates proudly wear.

“These ships are the oldest combatants in the fleet, and it’s no secret that things are always breaking out here,” Chief Gas Turbine Specialist (Mechanical) (SW) James Richards said aboard the Elrod, which is on a 6-month counterdrug patrol in the Caribbean Sea.

Even as he said those words while sitting in his “office” — a desk tucked in Elrod’s engineering central control station — an alarm cut the air. Without missing a beat, Richards stood and walked over to GSM2 (SW) Caleb Tubbs, standing as the engineering officer of the watch.

“Chief, we’ve got a ‘low oil’ reading on the No. 1 turbine, recommend we switch to No. 2 and shut it down,” Tubbs said.

Richard got busy at the tall, gray control panel full of lights, dials and switches.

Seamlessly, while communicating every move to the bridge, the switch was done in a mater of minutes and watchstanders were dispatched It took a couple minutes to make the switch and issue Tubbs directions to get someone down to the main machinery space to check out the problem.

“We’ll need to get supply to break out some oil,” Richards said. “But they’re all in training right now. It’ll have to wait, but get that ball rolling.”

For Richards and Tubbs, it’s business as usual on a ship that’s older than many of its crew members.

“As you can see, this plant is old and requires constant care,” he said. “That’s a mixed blessing, but the bottom line is our sailors get to deal with casualties all the time — we drill on what to do and they get to practice what they learn on a regular basis because something always needs to be fixed.”

Phasing out

The Navy built 51 of the 4,100-ton Perry-class ships, commissioning them between 1977 and 1989 as inexpensive and expendable escorts for carriers, amphibious forces and supply convoys. The design has proven popular around the world, with another 20 being built for Australia, Spain and Taiwan. Many of the 30 “figs” that have been discarded by the fleet are now serving in the Bahraini, Egyptian, Pakistani, Polish and Turkish navies.

The remaining 21 are likely headed for the same fate in the coming years as the Navy places its faith in the smaller, faster littoral combat ship to perform traditional frigate missions.

Three were put down this fiscal year and six will go in 2013. Seven will depart in 2014 and 2015. The remaining three will go at a slower pace, with two leaving in 2017 and the last, the Ingraham, in 2019.

The problem is the frigates are going away faster than the Navy can build the LCS to replace them.

That delay has caused many observers to call on the Navy to cover the gap by extending the life of the remaining frigates, but officials are sticking to the schedule, saying the ships are too worn-out to make it worthwhile.

“There will be 31 fewer ships to do the same number of missions in 2015 than there were in 2009,” retired Navy Capt. Rick Hoffman, who commanded the frigate DeWert and later the cruiser Hue City, wrote in a 2009 paper. “Decommissioning the FFGs prior to LCS arriving in the fleet in sufficient numbers to cover the mission set seems to introduce significant risk.”

The end result, he said, will be the Navy doesn’t have the ships to cover the missions they’re doing today, and some things will have to give. Officials have hinted that counterdrug and nation-building work in Central and South America will be one of those things.

Until then, the Elrod is the tip of the spear. And the ship’s sailors have become adept at doing more with less as manning has gradually been cut.

“That’s what frigate sailors do,” said Senior Chief Gunner’s Mate (SW/AW) Asa Worcester, the ship’s command senior chief. “That’s not a bitch, that’s a fact that we live with every day ‘cause the mission still has to get done.”

Tough life

This is Worcester’s second tour on Elrod and third on a frigate. He made chief onboard Elrod and is proud to be back as the ship’s top enlisted sailor.

“I feel there’s something special about these ships and the type of sailor it produces,” he said. “Grow up in this environment and you’ll be a better sailor for it — our sailors don’t just survive, they thrive.”

That sentiment is echoed up and down the ranks. Life is tough onboard the 453-foot-long, 45-foot-wide ship. The gear is old and has a tendency to break. But still, Worcester said, the mission gets done because of the crew.

“We’ve got old machinery that doesn’t always work. In fact, we still have electronic gear in here that uses vacuum tubes. You know how hard that is to fix?” Richards said.

Even worse, he said, is the lack of spare parts. Many of the companies that provided the gear in the 1970s and 1980s are now out of business, causing Elrod and the other frigates to scrounge for parts and often make their own.

“And that’s where our sailors benefit,” Richards said. “Sailors learn their jobs best by doing them, by tearing down gear and rebuilding it — and this is a real hands-on environment for them to learn.”

That reality has turned Tubbs, who at six years and counting onboard the Elrod is the vessel’s longest-serving sailor, into a top second class petty officer who stands engineering officer of the watch, a very senior watch station.

And it’s not just engineering sailors who benefit from the facts of frigate life. Even in the technical ratings, that same story comes through.

“This ship was designed as an [anti-submarine warfare] platform, but we’re not doing that much these days,” said Chief Sonar Technician (Surface) (SW) Scott Boger. “We have essentially one watch section, about half what [an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer] has.”

“My sailors have to be more involved in the gear that they would on a newer ship where much is still under warranty,” he said. “Our gear is older and problematic, leading to them getting more troubleshooting time.”

Boger said they still train for the ASW mission by conducting scenarios regularly. But frigate duty for them is a chance to expand themselves as sailors, he said.

“The result is that on a deployment like this and on a frigate in general, my guys have the ability to do more things outside the division,” Boger said. “That, in turn, makes them more competitive long-term against their peers outside the Navy.

In the most recent marking cycle for second classes, he said, of the six early-promote recommendations the ship was allowed to give, two of them were from Boger’s crew of seven sonar techs.

The learning opportunity of frigate life isn’t just on the deck plates. It’s also in the wardroom, according to Cmdr. Jack Killman, Elrod’s commanding officer.

“For a junior officer, a frigate is a moving classroom,” he said. “You have the chance to stand a lot of watches and learn, and you don’t have to fight for collateral duties as there’s more than enough to go around.” All this results in a very tight crew from the skipper down to the lowest seaman.

Living conditions are also tough. It’s cramped, and the ship also tends to roll with the seas more than newer, wider vessels.

“It’s too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter,” said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class (SW) Lance Ellis. “Once we were showering in cold water for two weeks before that was fixed. You just learn to deal with it and it’s no big deal. Frigate life just makes you tougher.”

For example, he said, frigates only have a central laundry facility.

“We put our stuff in mesh bags, and it’s picked up and washed that way,” he said. “It comes back wrinkled and sometimes damp. I wish we could just do it ourselves.”

“I have ‘A’ school classmates who went to bigger and newer ships with all the amenities,” Ellis said. “They haven’t learned half of what I have. They have no idea what my world is like.”

Because there are fewer people, all crew members experience work such as handling lines and painting the ship, as well as standing all kinds of watches and bringing on supplies.

When asked how many of the 180-person crew he knows personally, Ellis calmly said: “Everybody.”

“The bottom line is we’re a family,” he said. “I asked to come to a frigate on the advice of the chiefs who taught me in ‘A’ school who said a frigate would make me a better sailor. They were right.”

“You are on a very friendly basis with everybody and you know small facts and trinkets about them and they know small facts and trinkets about you,” he said. “You may not see someone everyday, but you know them. When someone’s wife has a baby, you hear about it — next time [you] pass them in a passageway, you congratulate them.”

All this is what brought Worcester back to Elrod. Though, for him, it’ll end on a sad note.

“I’ll be here when the ship decommissions, I’ll have to help put her out of service,” he said. “But for now, there are missions to do and a yard period coming up to plan for.

“After that, we’ll work up and deploy at least one more time. We just don’t have the time to worry about that now. There’s too much on our plates today, and that’s just the facts of frigate life.”

Credit to pcboss at Mymil Forum

Jika benar kita betul-betul memerlukan kapal-kapal sedemikian dengan lebih segera, mungkin kita perlu melihat kepada perolehan kapal-kapal surplus dari negara lain yang lebih terkini, seperti negara Yunani yang hampir bangkrap dengan menawarkan pengambilahan kapal jenis superfac mereka kelas Roussen yang sebenarnya memenuhi keperluan sedia ada, jika keadaan kewangan mengizinkan. Bagi saya ini lebih berbaloi kerana bukan lagi sebagai stop-gap measure, tetapi sekali-gus untuk menggantikan kelas FAC itu sendiri yang memang sudah uzur dan telah diminta penggantian. Barulah boleh dikatakan rotan diganti dengan akar yang tidak kurang hebatnya.

Roussen Class FACM HS Roussen, P-67