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Another patrol boat from Japan to boost security
Published on: Thursday, June 08, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) hopes to further boost enforcement and security with the arrival of its KM Arau patrol vessel from Japan on Wednesday.The 993-tonne vessel, measuring about 87 metres long, which will be based here, has the capability of sailing 21 days straight and withstanding rough weather at sea, and is powered by two main engines and three generators.

She also comes with a helipad measuring about 10.5 metres wide and 15 metres long.

The vessel arrived at the naval base at about 9am with 25 MMEA officers and personnel led by its Commanding Officer, Maritime Captain Saiful Lizan Ibrahim, along with 13 crew from Japan.

The vessel will berth here before continuing its journey to Port Klang on June 9 after which it will be christened by the Sultan of Perlis before returning to Kota Kinabalu where it will be based.

They were greeted by MMEA Sabah and Labuan Director, Maritime First Admiral Mohd Zubil Mat Som, who said the added asset will also have more role in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone as well as the West Coast on a rotation basis.

Also present was Kota Kinabalu Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency Chief First Admiral Adam Aziz.

"The vessel will be based at the Sepanggar Naval Base until we have our own home base, the site has been identified and the project to build our base here is expected to take place next year," said Zubil.

He said this is so far the biggest vessel MMEA has in Sabah, followed by KM Banggi which measures 75 metres long.

"In Malaysia KM Arau is the second biggest MMEA vessel, the first is KM Pekan (based in Kuantan) which measures 92 metres long," he said.

It was also learnt that KM Arau is the third vessel from the Japanese Government, the first being KM Marlin handed over some seven or eight years ago, followed by KM Pekan which arrived earlier this year.

This is credited to the good bilateral relations between Japan and Malaysia with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreeing to give Malaysia two patrol boats during Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's six-day visit to Japan in November last year.

Meanwhile, Saiful said the vessel which is now 28 years old was previously owned by the Japan Coast Guard who used it since 1989.

"The vessel is classified as Rescue Vessel, which is in line with MMEA's mission which is to rescue and conduct enforcement," he said.

He said the 25 MMEA crew were in Japan from May 16 and within the first two weeks until May 30, they underwent ship familiarisation training and were taught how to operate the vessel.

"We departed from Japan about 9am on May 31 and sailed through Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Philippines before arriving here after seven days at sea.

"Throughout the journey, we were faced with rough weather for almost five days at sea, the vessel proved to be capable of withstanding rough weather and despite being 28 years old is still able to go its original speed of 19 knots.

"I am also very proud to be serving on this vessel which has communication and navigation systems in top condition," he said.

"The first four days were a bit challenging, especially with the rough weather at sea, but we managed to adapt to it perhaps also due to our experience being at sea," he said. - Sherell Ann Jeffrey


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