Thursday, February 6, 2014

MMEA To Be Gifted Two Patrol Boats By Australia

As this Bernama article has stated, the Australian Government has seen fit to gift to the MMEA by middle next year two ex-Customs Bay class patrol boats for the reported purpose of "the boats would be used by Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) to counter people-smuggling operations throughout the region as both Australia and Malaysia had cooperated closely to combat this illegal activity", which it has been used for in Australian service. A fact file of the vessels in Australian Customs and Border Protection Service is available here.

In the Sydney Morning Herald,  it was stated that "Of the newly-announced Malaysia decision, Mr Morrison said Australia would not only provide boats but also "vessel training" for Malaysia's Maritime Enforcement Agency." In UK's The Guardian it is stated that this means "“Australia will provide vessel training, which will involve Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officers assisting in the development of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency’s existing maritime capability."

There is a saying that to not look a gift horse in the mouth, but it does worry me that these end 1999 built boats are reported to be retired quite early, initially supposed to be as early as 2010 due to the high maintenance cost and low availability as stated in this article. Looking at our track record with second hand vessels, I hope we will take care in its operations in order to avoid service difficulties especially with regards to maintenance.

In conclusion let me leave you with what may a less well known fact about this class. The Bay class design was used as the basis for the 14 larger Armidale class patrol boats in use with the Royal Australian Navy, which was borne out of a joint program between the RMN and RN that the RMN later left. If the RMN had not pulled out of the process, we could have actually seen more of similarly designed ships in our fleet.

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