MMEA gets its fastest, most sophisticated vessel in KM Bagan Datuk

Hariz Mohd

PORT KLANG: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency today received its first New Generation Patrol Craft (NGPC) during its naming and launching ceremony, officiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife.

Named KM Bagan Datuk, the first of six NGPCs ordered by MMEA under a RM381.3m total worth contract in 2015, will be the largest, fastest and most sophisticated vessel to enter the enforcement agency's fleet.

KM Bagan Datuk features a platform of 44.25m in overall length, 7.7m overall beam and 1.95m design draught, powered by two 1,920kilowatts MTU engines that give the vessel a maximum speed of 24 knots.

Najib in his speech said the delivery of MMEA's first NGPC signifies the government and rakyat's recognition towards the agency's efforts in ensuring the security and peace within Malaysian waters.

He said MMEA has been doing a commendable job of guarding Malaysia's waters. He said since MMEA's establishment in 2005, Malaysia had seen a significant drop in criminal cases, especially in the Straits of Malacca.

"According to the International Maritime Bureau annual report, they had in the year 2000 identified the Straits of Malacca as an area that had been the focus of sea robbers.

"Police statistics show that there were 57 cases of robbery at sea in 2000, involving trade vessels and fishermen.

"Alhamdulillah (Thank God), with the relentless efforts by MME as well as other agencies like the Royal Malaysian Navy and police Marine Unit, the situation at the straits today is far more peaceful.

"This is because since the MMEA was set up, it had been paying special attention to the Straits of Malacca, and as a result, there have been no cases of robbery-at-sea since 2009 except two incidents in 2011, and one case of diesel siphoning each in 2014 and 2015, which had been solved by the MMEA," Najib said.

He said MMEA started with only 59 vessels, and has increased its fleet to 255 ships today.

In his speech, Najib also announced that the government has agreed to allocate RM740 million for MMEA to build three Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs).

These vessels will complement the two OPVs offered by the Japanese government under its Aid Grant, one of which has already arrived in Malaysia.

Najib said he would board the OPV given by Japan, which has been named KM Pekan, during the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (Lima) 2017 exhibition which starts on March 21.

Meanwhile, MMEA director-general Admiral Datuk Seri Puzi Kahar in his speech, expressed the agency's gratitude towards the prime minister and the government for allocating the budget to enhance MMEA's capabilities.

He said KM Bagan Datuk is equipped with 35mm automatic cannons, day and night long range cameras, as well as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) which can carry out surveillance at 80 nautical miles range for eight hours, and oil pollution equipment, among others.

"This upgrade is timely with the increasing challenges and responsibilities in guarding the security and peace at sea.

"The new NGPC will definitely boost the morale of MMEA personnel in carrying out our duties," he said.

According to a press statement released by its builder Destini Bhd, KM Bagan Datuk was designed for search and rescue missions, maritime surveillance and firefighting operations.

It can accommodate a maximum crew of 41, and has a standard range of 2,000 miles at a speed of 12 knots.

Destini Bhd chairman Tan Sri Rodzali Daud said they expect to deliver five other NGPCs, currently under construction, for MMEA according to schedule, with the last craft to be delivered by June 2018.