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Saturday, 28 March 2009

Silently Vigilant In The Gulf

First reported as a rumour by KL Security Review in February, it has since been confirmed in a Jane's Defence Weekly report that the Royal Malaysian Navy's training frigate KD Hang Tuah has been deployed to the Gulf of Aden and she will return in April. This is despite earlier reports that the RMN's presence in the Gulf of Aden will not be extended beyond February if no funding is allocated as the Navy was concerned when initially told that the funding for these deployments would have to come out of its existing operational budget. This would have resulted in the RMN having to scale down its training in 2009 to accommodate such costs. But such concerns may have been eased by the news that the 19 March supplementary funding bill had allocated RM27.9 million was to pay for fuel costs incurred by the RMN in its 2008 deployments to the Gulf of Aden to protect ships belonging to Malaysian shipping companies transitting the Gulf. As it was earlier announced that the government spent RM14.6 million to finance the operations of Malaysian navy vessels under 'Ops Fajar' from Sept 4 to Dec 31 last year in the Gulf of Aden, that still leaves RM13.3 million to finance these operations until April I guess.

Although I feel that using the last remaining training frigate in the fleet for fleet operations is not suitable especially for such a long overseas deployment as I am sure the Navy's trainees will not be on board and thus are deprived of onboard training in the meantime, I guess that is the price to be paid by our Navy that is currently short on operational assets after their patrol craft an OPV squadrons has been transferred to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency. With the prior announced commissioning of two new Kedah class OPVs this month seems to be further postponed, the RMN may have to wait further to ease the shortage before they can send a more suitable vessel to undertake the operations in the Gulf and allow our training frigate to undertake her assigned role again. Until then we wish our men on board KD Hang Tuah in the Gulf good sailing! May they uphold the prestige their predecessors has gained in the short time our naval vessels has operated there.

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