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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mission proves navy can deal with emergencies

LUMUT: Not a single shot was fired, there was no casualty and no loss of the precious RM12 million worth of cargo during the recent rescue mission mounted by four Royal Malaysian Navy ships.

The ships -- KD Mahawangsa, KD Lekiu, KD Jebat and KD Kelantan -- embarked on a dangerous mission to rescue MT Nautica Johor Bahru, a Malaysian vessel, which was hijacked by pirates in the Straits of Singapore, near Pedra Branca, in the wee hours of Oct 27.
The Nautica Johor Bahru was carrying oil and gas from Malacca to Sibu.

KD Mahawangsa commanding officer Capt Jamel Abd Rahman, 48, said they were initially on a joint five- nation naval exercise about 60 nautical miles north of Tioman Island when the order for a live mission came in at 3pm that day.

The joint exercise, involving Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom, began on Oct 14.

Jamel said his ship was chosen to lead the mission and aided by two Super Lynx navy helicopters.

"There were some tense moments when we were tracking and shadowing the hijacked vessel but our crew kept their cool and ensured that maximum pressure was put on the pirates to abandon the ship.

"The pirates sailed into the Indonesian waters, thinking that we would give up the pursuit but the quick action on the part of the National Security Council resulted in the Indonesian authorities granting us access to pursue the hijacked vessel into our neighbouring waters," he said.

At 9.10pm, the drama ended when the crew of Nautica Johor Bahru contacted the navy at 9.10pm that the pirates had left the ship with their laptops, handphones and cash.

"Our tactical team was already on standby to take over the hijacked ship if necessary but was told to stand down when the pirates left the ship on a speed boat without being sighted.

"The mission proved that the Malaysian navy is equipped to carry out emergency tasks without breaking much sweat," he said.

On Friday, the ships and the helicopters safely returned to the naval base here in time to celebrate the Hari Raya Aidiladha.

As for Jamel, he was looking forward to a well-deserved break and celebrate the festival with his family.

At hand to receive them were RMN's fleet commander Datuk Wira Jamil Osman and Nautica Johor Bahru's owner Datuk Abdul Hak Md Amin.

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