July 6, 2020
by Abdul Rahmat Omar
LAST month saw two war drills in the South China Sea conducted by vessels
from the People’s Liberation Army – Navy of China (PLA-N), and the United
States Navy (USN) and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
Both incidents have increased the volatility of the situation in the region.
Notwithstanding the presence of the vessels from the Royal Malaysian Navy
(RMN) and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), the nation continues to see encroachments done by fishing vessels from China and Vietnam, and also by “research vessels” and vessels from the China Coast Guard to as far as the waters off Sarawak.
Not only that, the daily attempts by illegal immigrants to enter this country have also caused resources to be stretched thin.
The MMEA which have been operating mainly second-hand navy and police
vessels today took another step forward in beefing up its capabilities to meet these challenges head-on after receiving two New Generation Patrol Craft (NGPC) at a handover ceremony in Port Klang.
The two NGPCs, the KM Kota Kinabalu and the KM Tok Bali, are the fourth and fifth vessels of six delivered by Destination Marine Services Sdn Bhd at a total cost of RM400 million.
Both vessels are equipped with a 30mm SMASH ASELSAN gun, a 7-meter Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat, a long-range surveillance camera and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.
Both are 45 meters long with a 40-men complement and have an endurance of 10 days without having to be resupplied.
KM Kota Kinabalu will be based in Kuching, Sarawak, while the KM Tok Bali will be based in Tok Bali, Kelantan.
The capabilities of the MMEA will be further enhanced with the construction of three 83-meter Offshore Patrol Vessels by Tabung Haji Heavy Engineering in a joint-venture with Destination Marine Services at a yard in Pulau Indah.
The first of these OPVs will be delivered by year’s end and will have the capability to conduct long-range patrols in the 614,000 square-kilometer EEZ with an endurance of 21 days.
The Home Ministry is also in the process of acquiring Multi-Purpose Mission Ships (MPMS) capable of carrying six Fast Interceptor Craft and UAVs to extend its force projection.
Twenty units of the NGPC and between seven and eight OPVs have been planned for the MMEA to beef up its capabilities.
Six NGPCs and three OPVs have been built.
During the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, 100 foreign fishing vessels including 88 from Vietnam have been chased out of our waters.