RMN frigate sailed into Bintulu
ROYAL Malaysian Navy (RMN) battleship Kapal Diraja (KD) Jebat (pennant No. 29) drew a number of admirers and curious on-lookers when it dropped anchor at Bintulu Port recently.
Commanding Officer and Senior Officer Afloat Captain Abdul Halim Shaari said the crew of the battle-ready frigate had been looking forward to their first call at this strategic port in the northern region of the state.
The last RMN visit was by KD Mutiara back in 2007.
He said: “The port is impressive – and very busy. When we entered the port, there was only a tiny space for our ship to berth.
“The tugboat pilots were very co-operative and professional. Even the port authority communicated with us. This is something we most welcome.”
According to the skipper, the KD Jebat was in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, earlier for a series of joint operational and training exercises with the submarine KD Tunku Abdul Rahman.
The frigate sailed from Lumut, Perak, on Oct 28, arriving in Kota Kinabalu on Oct 31 before starting the joint three-day training in the South China Sea with KD Tunku Abdul Rahman.
During the exercise, Abdul Halim was impressed with the capability of the submarine.
“I salute their crew’s dedication. Our exercise in KK was a success,” he said.
The exercise was also a good opportunity to expose the trainees onboard to underwater operations.
“This is the best time to have an exercise with the submarine – it’s not something we can do all year round. The submarine is a strategic asset and we have to keep it combat-ready through operational exercise,” he explained.
The call at Bintulu port itself was only one of the KD Jebat’s operational visits to different parts of the country.
Situation under control
On national security, Abdul Halim said the situation within Malaysian waters was under control.
“There is no major issue on safety. The country is peaceful except for the island dispute in the South China Sea but overall, the situation is under control.”
He pointed out that there was also a decline in pirate activities in the surrounding seas.
RMN ships, he said, were maintaining surveillance through constant patrolling and other bilateral understandings with neighbouring countries.
“The people can rely on us but we also need the support of the people,” he noted.
While on patrol, the navy make a kind of bertanya khabar (info exchange) gesture, especially with merchant or commercial vessels.
The KD Jebat and other naval ships communicate with these vessels, asking routine questions such as whether they are facing any problems or threats during their journey.
“From Lumut to Sabah alone, we made 10 such calls,” said Abdul Halim who took over as commanding officer in July 2012.
Previously, he was with the KD Laksamana Hang Nadim.
On the level of security in Sarawak, he said the state is “very peaceful” but at the same time, the navy still needed to show their presence to boost the confidence of foreign investors.
Navy Open Day
On whether there were any plans to allow the public to visit the KD Jebat or other naval vessels calling at Bintulu Port in the future, Abdul Halim said he would propose to headquarters to hold an Open Day for the navy in the Division and visitors would be invited to come onboard.
“This (KD Jebat) is your ship – you pay income tax and you should come.”
According to him, the proposal to hold one event in Bintulu on Navy Day next year will also be brought up to the top brass for approval.
“We want the public to know us. Our duty is to protect them and defend the country. In fact, the proudest thing is that we have the 1Malaysia spirit onboard,” he said.
Best in RMN fleet
He said the KD Jebat is the best ship in the RMN fleet besides its sister ship the KD Lekiu 30.
“There are three Sarawakians onboard and everytime we dock in Sarawak, they will be given leave.”
The KD Jebat’s last visit to Sarawak was during the fasting month this year – from August 12 to 14 – in Kuching. It left for Lumut four days before Hari Raya.
The battleship’s visit to Bintulu was part of the training for the navigation officers apart from being a courtesy call on the Bintulu Port Authority.
Abdul Halim said as most of the crew were on their first visit to Bintulu, it was a good opportunity for them to learn more about the oil-and-gas town.
There were about 170 sailors onboard, including 15 permanent officers, 25 trainees.
He hoped more naval ships would visit Bintulu in the future.
The KD Jebat sailed back to Lumut on November 8 in a 62-hour journey. At full speed, it can reach the destination just in
However, Abdul Halim said they were not cruising at full speed to preserve the engine and focus on patrolling to detect and counter any contraband activities.
“If we receive a call in between for any immediate tasking, we will respond.”
The KD Jebat was launched in May 1995 and commissioned into Royal Malaysian Navy in November 1999 after being completed by Yarrow Shipbuilders.
The frigate carries the lower pennant number (29) to signify the seniority of the ship.
For armoury, it is equipped with the Alenia Marconi System Nautis Combat data system.
Its missile is the MBDA MM40 Exocet Block II. The two-four launchers are installed in midship section between the two radar masts.
The sea-skimming missile approaches the target at high subsonic speedover of Mach 0.9.
The MBDA Vertical Launch Seawolf short-range missile provides protection against supersonic aircraft and anti-ship missiles to a range of 6km.
The 16 vertical launchers are installed in front of the bridge. A solid fuel propulsion rocket provides a speed of Mach 2.5.
The ship’s main gun is the 57mm Bofors that fires shells at a rate of 220 rounds/min. The gun’s maximum range is 17km.
The two MSI 30mm guns fire to a range of 10km at a rate of up to 650 rounds/min.
The frigate’s anti-submarine warfare sonar (Thales Spherion B Sonar) uses a spherical acoustic array and provides long range active-passive acoustic mode for search and prosecution of submarine contact.
On the raised deck at the level of the roof of the helicopter hangar are the Whitehead 324mm B 515 triple tube torpedo launchers.
The hangar and a helicopter deck with a single ranging spot accommodates the Westland Lynx MK 100 helicopter for air operations.
The Westland Lynx MK 100 is the most advanced helicopter in the Southeast Asian region and highly feared for its ability to implement monitoring by air.
The KD Jebat is 106m long and able to accommodate 154 crews and operate for 21 days at sea over a distance of 5,000 nautical miles.
Built to protect Malaysian waters, the frigate is fitted out for a four-dimensional battle, involving anti-surface, upper surface, anti-air and electronic warfare.
The navy work hard to maintain the highest vigilance over their assets to ensure smooth operational patrols within the nation’s exclusive economic zone which is rich in petroleum products. These patrols have a positive impact on the country’s economic growth.
Bintulu is one of the petroleum exploration centres and the KD Jebat docking at its port is a reassuring sight.
The presence of the most advanced RMN battleship in Bintulu reffirms the country’s commitment to enforcing maritime law to prevent the external threat from disrupting peace in Malaysian waters.