KUCHING, Dec 4: The state’s Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has beefed up its capabilities with the launching of a New Generation Patrol Craft (NGPC).
Named the KM Sri Aman, the 44.25m long, 7.7m wide and 297-tonne vessel is equipped with a 800km-range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), a 30mm Aselsan gun Smash and two MTU 12V4000 M73 diesel engines, each capable of producing about 1,920kW or 2,575bhp, apart from the latest radar and navigation systems.
MMEA director Dato’ Sri Zulkifli Abu Bakar, during the launching ceremony, said the vessel was one out of six of its kind among the agency’s assets in the country. It would be able to maintain speeds of up to 12 knots for about 2,000 nautical miles, and could be stocked up with supplies to be able to sail out for 10 days straight.
“The vessel is in the command of Lieutenant Commander (M) Mahkos Juing assisted by Lieutenant (M) Bracewell Brown alongside 41 crew members.
“The vessel is also equipped with troilboom equipment to carry out oil spill cleanup missions,” he said, adding that KM Sri Aman is the 15th asset of the state’s MMEA.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said he was glad that the state’s MMEA was able to acquire additional assets thanks to a loan provided by the state to MMEA. The KM Sri Aman costs over RM70 million.
He also commended the MMEA for being able to equip the vessel with state-of-the-art equipment particularly the UAV, as he had always stressed on the use of the latest technologies in whatever endeavour for the sake of the state’s development.
“With that loan, I, on behalf of the state government, hope the federal government would be able to pay us back,” Abang Johari quipped.
He added that now that the state’s MMEA is stronger, it would be able to assist the state government in defending Sarawak’s territories in the sea from crooks.
“I often read the news where many illegal foreign fishermen encroached into our waters. This proves that our state is rich in sea resources. Not only fishes but also oil.
“This latest vessel is one of the ways we will safeguard our seas and sovereignty,” said Abang Johari.
Meanwhile during a press conference, state MMEA director First Admiral (M) Ismaili Bujang Pit said while the state’s MMEA was still in the midst of acquiring at least two landing crafts (smaller vessels to deliver supplies back and forth from land to bigger vessels), the state’s agency was also expecting another big addition to its assets.
He said in two to three years’ time, Sarawak MMEA would have an Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) which is more than 70m in length, significantly larger than the NGPC.
“We have got the budget and it is being handled by our headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. Three will be built where one would be for Sarawak at the cost of more than RM200 million per vessel,” Ismaili revealed.
He said this was seen as a need because in the past they came across Chinese coastguard vessels which were much larger than MMEA’s biggest vessel at the time, and MMEA needed to boost its image and integrity as not to be dwarfed by them.
“Sarawak is considered the last frontier (sea exploration). We see most encroachment now focusing on the Sarawak seas. So if we don’t do something drastic, it will be too late. By the time we realise it, all our resources would have been depleted.
“We are on the ground and we know what is happening very well,” he said. — DayakDaily