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CURRENT ISSUE

ARM MERCHANT SHIPS?
Should merchant ships transiting high risk areas carry small arms for defense against pirates?

Selected crew should be trained and have guns available
Professional armed security teams should be hired
No guns on merchant ships, ever

June 1, 2009

MISC containership gets antipiracy role

Pirates who attack a Malaysian containership may find they have made a fatal mistake.

Malaysia's MISC Berhad, in collaboration with the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) and the National Security Council (NSC), has successfully modified its containership Bunga Mas Lima into a RMN Auxiliary Vessel for the purpose of escorting and protecting MISC's ships sailing through the Gulf of Aden.

The project was undertaken following last year's hijacking of MISC's ships Bunga Melati Dua and Bunga Melati 5. Since the incident, RMN launched OP FAJAR, a rescue, escort and protection mission, with the aim of ensuring the safe passage of all MISC vessels in the Gulf of Aden and has since sent five ships, namely, KD LEKIU, KD SRI INDERAPURA, KD MAHAWANGSA, KD SRI INDERA SAKTI and KD HANG TUAH in support of that mission.

With the deployment of the Bunga Mas Lima as a RMN Naval Auxiliary Vessel, RMN's KD Sri Inderapura, stationed in the Gulf of Aden will return to Malaysia this month.

The Bunga Mas Lima, a 699 TEU containership, is the first Malaysian merchant ship to be modified as an Auxiliary Vessel for TLDM. The modification work was carried out by Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering Sdn Bhd (MMHE), the heavy engineering arm of MISC, at MMHE's yard in Pasir Gudang, Johor.

MISC notes that according to international law, an auxiliary ship is a ship other than a warship which is owned or under the ruling control of the military. It is operated by the government and thus, the ship is accorded sovereign immunity.

As an RMN Auxiliary Vessel, Bunga Mas Lima, will be manned by MISC personnel who have completed a training program with RMN. The MISC crew, now with the roles as Navy Reservists, will be responsible for the navigation and maintenance of the vessel. Regular officers and men of RMN will also be onboard the vessel to carry out all security related operations.

MISC says that putting Bunga Mas Lima into operation as a Naval Auxiliary Vessel is a testimony of its long-term commitment to the safety of its employees and vessels, particularly amidst the concerns over the rising global piracy threats that could jeopardise its operations in the Gulf of Aden.

For the Royal Malaysian Navy, the concept is "an important step in realizing the dream of the nation, in particular the Malaysian Armed Forces which practices the concept of Pertahanan Menyeluruh or Total Defense (HANRUH), as stated in the National Defense Policy."


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