Welcome Aboard Mariners Alike - Malaysia Rule The Waves

its hard to describe how a man could left everything he had on land and went out to sea...
its even harder to describe how bright the stars at night and how fresh the cool morning air when you are in the middle of the ocean...
the hardest thing is to describe how close you are to death and how god could took your life at any time...
come to sea and see for yourself...


come to sea and see for yourself

this blog is dedicated to mariners,navigators and seafarers alike, merchant or naval for others to had a glimpse of what we do and what we faced in the vast blue oceans.

Disclaimer :
Please inform in advance the owner of this site if you tend to use any postings entitled or labeled "story of watch keeping officer"..."nautical studies" and "panorama di laut biru" in this site for your website or for any other purposes.

The owner could be contacted through Facebook or email at kartefower_444@yahoo.co.uk

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

story of watchkeeping officer - performing navigational watch

 also for exam purposes but still simple yet complicated read...


navigate to deviate - to keep your course and to stay away from hazards

The officer of the watch shall :

-keep watch on the bridge by maintaining lookout by sight and hearing and as well by all available means.

-in no circumstances leave the bridge until properly relieved.

-vessel position,course and speed are checked at frequent intervals - navigation aids to be use to keep the vessel on planned passage during watch.

-carry out master standing / night orders.

-have full knowledge on the location and proper use of navigation and safety equipments and its limitations.

-comply with International Regulations For Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS).

-engine, helms and sound signalling apparatus to be used at officer of the watch discretion - timely notice on speed variation to engine room.

-aware of manouvering characteristics of the vessel - stopping distance and turning ability in loaded or ballast conditions.

-ensure autopilot or helmsmen steering required course.

-compass or gyro error taken every watch.

-check radar and other navigation equipments performance.

-check barograph,barometer,temperature.

-have proper record of movement and activities related to navigation or shipboard operations.

-cargo conditions and ballast conditions and effect to draught.

-monitor ship personnel working on task which require extra attention.

-in any doubt or emergency - call master

-come to sea and see for yourself-

Monday, September 28, 2009

story of watchkeeping officer - handing over watch

this is for exam purposes but still..something worth to read and to know about...

8 hours a day in 4 hours shift and at least 2 hours of overtime - 10 hours every day for six month excluding other extraordinary situation which consume another extra hours

handing over watch / taking over watch at sea

1.ensure relieving officer or watch-keeper is fit to carry out watch-keeping duties.if not inform master.

2.master standing and night order has been read by reliever.

3.vision adjusted to the prevailing conditions - any requirements for extra lookout.

4.vessel position indicated on chart, course laid and course alterations, charts use for the duration of the next watch.

5.state of visibility, sea state, current and wind, weather conditions, ship draft, under-keel clearance, stability conditions.

6.speed and engine movement - effects of squat, estimated time arrival at critical points or destination

7.status of steering system - manual steering or auto-pilot - gyro/compass error

8.current and anticipated traffic conditions, proximity of vessel or navigational hazards, navigational warnings, meteorological forecasts.

9. status of navigation equipments - performance, malfunction, rectification.

10.daylight signal, sound signal, navigation lights or flag displayed.

11.status of communication systems in operations, status of GMDSS equipments - Inmarsat-C, MF/HF, VHF.

12. location and number of ship personnel working which require extra attention and monitoring.

13.cargo and ballast conditions - tank alarms.

14.status of fire, safety and security rounds conducted.

-come to sea and see for yourself-

Icebreaker - Breaking Trough The Ice

breaking trough the polar ice caps

Icebreaker is a purpose built ship designed to navigate trough the ice covered waters.An icebreaker had a different traits from other vessels which is ice strengthened hull, ice clearing shape and much more power to push the vessel trough the ice-covered water.

It is used to keep trade routes navigable by other vessels in the polar region or in areas where seasonal ice conditions exists.Some icebreakers are also polar research vessels engaged in scientific and oceanographic researches in the polar regions.Icebreakers like the RV Polarstern are deeply involved in scientific researches.

There are also multipurpose icebreaker engaged in offshore oil and gas industries as well as ice strengthened vessels where it is a cargo vessel designed to withstand ice without having the assistance of traditional icebreakers.

  the arktika class icebreaker riding over the ice to open up shipping lane during winter season

Icebreakers use its enormous size and weight to break the ice covered water by riding up and over the ice in front of it with the weight of the ship then breaking the ice.

The combination of momentum and power drive the vessel on to ice and breaking it under the immense weight of the vessel.The ship had specially designed hull to direct the broken ice around or under to keep it away from the ship propeller or propeller shaft thus clearing the debris out from the ship path.

Double hull constructions and watertight compartments protects the icebreaker from taking in water in case of hull breach with the hull thickness is greater than normal seagoing.This is most notable at the bow,stern and along the vessel waterline.

the strengthened bow of an icebreaker differs from normal vessels

The bow is rounded rather than pointed, allowing the vessel to ride up over the ice, breaking it with the weight of the vessel. The hull has no appendages likely to be damaged by the ice, and the rudder and propeller are protected by the shape of the hull. The propeller blades are strengthened, and the vessel has the ability to inspect and replace blades while at sea.
Azimuth Podded Propulsion (azipods) are a norm in new type of icebreakers where these propulsion systems give the ship a much greater manoueverability and increase fuel efficiency.This has permitted the vessel from the reliance of rudder.

RV Polarstern of the Alfred Wagener Institute for Polar and Marine Research,Bremerhaven

17,300 Tonnes
117.91 metres (386 ft 10 in)
25.07 metres (82 ft 3 in)
11.21 metres (36 ft 9 in)
Installed power:
4 engines, 14,000 kW (20,000 bhp)
15.5 knots (28.7 km/h)
44 maximum

Built by Howaldtswerke-Deutshce Werft in Kiel, the Polarstern is involved in marine and scientific researches in the Arctic and Antartic region. The double hull research vessel can operate in temperature as low as -50°C and breaking trough ice 1.5m thick at speed of 5 knots.


USCGC Healy of the United States Coastguard

16,000 tonnes
130 m
25 m
Ice class:
1.4 m @ 3 kn (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph) continuous
2.4 m backing and ramming
Diesel - Electric
17 knots
76 crew, 50 scientists
Aircraft carried:
1999–2005: 2 × HH-65A Dolphin helicopter
2005–present: Helicopter support is performed by a National Science Founder contractor.

The United States Coastguard comissioned the WAGB-20 in year 1999 joining another two USCG icebreakers.USCGC Healy is a research icebreaker capable of conducting coastguard duties including  logistics, search and rescue, escort duties, enviroment protection and enforcement of laws and treaties.

The Coastguard icebreaker cum cutter is designed to break 1.5m of ice continuously at three knots and can operate in temperatures as low as −45 °C.


 50 Let Pobedy or 50 Years Of Victory owned by Murmansk Shipping Company

159.60 m
30.00 m (28.00 m at the waterline)
11.08 m
17.2 m
Ice class:
Installed power:
2×27.6 MW (37,012 hp) nuclear reactor, model "TGG-27,5 OM5"
3×17.6 MW (23,602 hp) electric propulsion motors
up to 21.4 knots (39.6 km/h)
4 years
128 passengers
140 crew members

 The last of the Arktika class nuclear icebreaker, the 50 Years of Victory is the most powerful icebreaker ever built in history with nuclear reactor powering up her propulsion systems. Built in St. Petersburg the icebreaker is designed to break through ice up to 2.8 meters thick with crew capacity up to 140 personnel.

Other ships in the class are NS Arktika(Arctic),NS Sibir(Siberia),NS Rosiyya(Russia),NS Sovyetskiy Soyuz(Soviet Union) and NS Yamal(End of The Land).


Kapitan Khlebnikov owned by Far East Shipping Company(FESCO)

12,288 tons
122.50 m
26.50 m
8.50 m
Ice class:
KM * LL3 [2] А2 passenger
Installed power:
Main engines: 6 diesel sets producing 24,200 horsepower (18.5MW)
3 twin DC electric motors each turning a 22m long propeller shaft to which is attached a 4 bladed 4.3m diameter propeller with hardened steel blades. Blades can be changed at sea in the event of damage.
14 knots in open water
Max speed: 19 knots
Guests: 108
Staff & Crew: 70
Aircraft carried:
Two helicopters are carried to help with navigation in ice and for tourist trips.
Aviation facilities:

Kapitan Khlebnikov is a Russian icebreaker built during the Soviet era by Wartsila in Helsinki, Findland. She is powered by conventional diesel engine and was refitted into tour ship in 1990. The ship is capable to accomodate up to 108 passenger with facilities of  54 cabins and suites, with 2 dining rooms, a lounge and bar a heated indoor swimming pool, exercise room and sauna, theatre-style auditorium and shop.

The hull thickness is 45mm at the ice skirt and 25-35mm elsewhere. Friction between the ship and the ice is reduced by a polymer-paint coating at the level of the ice skirt. An air bubbling system helps ice breaking. Air can be forced under pressure from 2m above the keel from the bow to half way down the ship.

-come to sea and see for yourself-

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

story of watchkeeping officer - heavy weather

this is nothing compared to what others had overcome in the great oceans..but still it does struck fear in hearts of seasoned mariners and make a young seafarers trembled

knowing that your life is in the hands of the almighty god...owner of the vast oceans

words cant really describe how does a person felt when life and death is uncertain and only god had the power to decide whether you live or you die

high waves..cold seas..gusting winds

steel hull as your safe haven..prayers as your insurance

-come to sea and see for yourself-

Friday, September 18, 2009

story of watchkeeping officer - hari raya at sea..

this is based on true story depicting living people who went out to the far-side of the world leaving their love ones away during festivities...SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI to all mariners,seafarers and navigators from merchant marines to royal navy alike.

"..thy sea is a blessing to thee.."

we would really appreciate the time we had with our love ones while not at sea regardless of festivities

My ship is somewhere in the South China Sea, steaming from one foreign land to another. I kept watch on the bridge since 2000H and i wasn`t half way trough yet. Its 2105H on the night before hari raya and i`m here in the middle of the ocean listening to some Vietnamese fishermens chattering on channel 16 and not the takbir.

If only the main office didnt call me to the last minute or if only i didnt picked up the phone, then i would be at home with dad and mom and my crazy brothers and cousins busy with hari raya preperations of membakar lemang or something. But then reality check. I am in the middle of the ocean on a steel hull with 36 others who had the same feeling like me.

I kept the thinking of home as far away as i could since i`m here for less than a month and i had another 5 months ahead while there are others onboard who should be at home by now but someone at the office maybe or accidently forgot those few who should have signed off few days back but their reliever didnt turned up.

I pity them but that is life when you are involved in this kind of career.Nothing more i could give them, not even a day off. That is given at master discretions and its lucky for all of us that the old man would give us an extra day off on the 2nd day of hari raya. I bet he doesnt have the mood for working either since the office also had their holidays for almost a week. Well i dont really know and im just speculating that theory.

The only thing is i will keep on with watchkeeping duties even on the morning of hari raya since we didnt have extra officer onboard and no one will took over my duties either unless the captain would say something else which i doubt really much.But my then there is no overtime and i dont have to spend another four hours for two days.Its a holiday after all.

Preperations for hari raya were mainly made by the catering department with the cook and his stewards will stay up till midnight preparing for meals which could match even the prime minister open house in Putrajaya.Some of the crew would also help in the spirit of celebrations,preparing the lounge with decorations or simply potong bawang which will be served with nasi himpit adabi that was bought from singapore a month before that.

The ship steamed trough the waves steadily under the moonlit night.Fresh breeze blowing from northeast and the fishermen voice had started to diminished. I had my eyes on the radar while my mind depicting the days i had myself during hari raya while at sea years ago. I consider myself lucky while others had their hari raya celebration at places only god knows where, i spent my hari raya at my hometown while on shipboard service.

The story goes when at that time were at east Malaysia a week before hari raya to load palm oil products destined for Europe. After loading completion the ship set sail to west Malaysia to the only port in the east coast for another loading operation.We arrive a day before hari raya and were informed by port control to anchor at the anchorage and were given entry to port and the 2nd day of hari raya.

Right after we alongside on the 2nd day, i rushed to my village after requesting permission from the master and chief officer.I went for a day and came back to ship.Its a bit rushing but at least i got to met my family and that was then.

Hours past and the ship went on a steady course. Positions plotted and checked regularly. Course alteration would be an hour before we head to the open ocean of the Pacific.Fishing craft were sighted but none of them were a concern to the safety of navigation but continous monitoring is made to ensure it is safe.

Radio chatter from channel 16 came back alive, but this time its the Taiwanese trawlers with their stadium lights turns darkness into pasar malam or padang futsal at sea.The weather is fine and the skies were clear.

I handed over my watch to the 2nd officer at 0014H. He said that the crew were busy with the preparations a while ago and its still meriah. Got karaoke lagu raya and kugiran tin milo beramai-ramai in the galley.I laughed and look forward to join them. After giving a few last details to the 2nd officer i went down to join the commotions.

The prayers were made at the community room with the captain as imam. I was on watchkeeping duty that morning so i cant attend.

The atmosphere were just like at home, and the only different thing is you were with your mates who had to left their love ones back at home. Its our duty and were obliged to carry them out no matter what happened.

The main course of the feast is the reknowned kambing panggang,ikan steam and ayam golek along with the usual hari raya dishes of lemang instant, rendang, nasi himpit adabi and kuah kacang plus sate and various other dishes from east and west coast of Malaysia, not to mentioned were having spaghetti,fries and lots of junk foods for hari raya all which is served buffet style and could really match any of our ministers open houses.

I had my share of feast on the bridge, brought by the stewards for me and my AB. The AB had his cellphone filled with lagu raya so we end up layan all the songs troughout watch.Its a good thing that we went to the Pacific ocean to the other side of the world during the morning of hari raya where traffic is almost none and were really alone in the middle of the ocean.

Today there will be some games and more karaoke.The PS2 is fully booked for Winning Eleven matches i guess.Put up my name also for the afternoon match against my chief officer.Other would head to the bridge and call their family using the sattelite phone.Tomorrow will be another holiday for the crew before all of us return to normal routine the day after.

While there is still chance we will have ourselves a good time celebrating hari raya although were far away from our families and love ones.

-come to sea and see for yourself-

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ekranoplan - Soviet monsters of the Caspian Sea

ekranoplan or surface/screen plane is a ground effect vehicle
Ekranoplan or screen/surface vessel is a surface effect craft or wing in ground craft (WIG) developed by the Central Hydrofoil Design Bureau led by Alexeyev Rotislav and Alexander Lippisch in the Soviet Union.

The ekranoplan utilize high pressure air developed by the aerodynamic interaction between the craft wings and the earth surface thus the term wing in ground (WIG). Ekranoplan operates in an aircraft like manner but due to its reliance over surface effect to maintain level flight over the surface it could not fly like aircraft did. The International Maritime Organization considered ekranoplan as a type of watercraft since it operate above the water on certain height and does not operate or fly like an aircraft.

Soviet Union is a major player in this technology and incorporate it for military purposes, hence the development of the Caspian Sea Monster by western observer as technology demonstrator.
KM-1 - the Caspian Sea monster
In 1966 the Central Hydrofoil Design Bureau under Rostislav Alekseev produced a gargantuan "ekranoplan" ("surface plane") combining the smooth hull form of a ship with stub wings, a large vertical fin and horizontal tail.
 the large wing span and the 10 Kusnetsov engine provide lift and thrust for KM-1
The craft featured ten engines: eight mounted in two clusters of four directly behind the cockpit to provide augmented lift, and two on the vertical fin to provide cruise power. This vehicle could lift 540 tons and cruise at over 300 mph at an altitude of over 10 feet.
 A-90 Orlyonok military high speed transport craft
Further developments of ground effect vehicle led to mass production version of ekranoplan for military purposes such as the  A-90 Orlyonok and the MD-160 Lun of the Soviet Navy.
A-90 turning during flight - note the height between the craft and the surface is very low

The 58.1m length and 16.3m wide A-90 is crewed by six person and it is capable of carrying 150 troops and payload up to 28 000kg.2 Kusnetsov NK-8-4K turbojet engine and 1 Kusnetsov NK-12MK turboprop engine propelled this beast with cruising speed of 400km/h and operating range of 1500km, taking off with weight up to140 000kg.
coming out to sea
The A-90 were primarily used as high speed military transport vehicle and destined for Baltic and Black Sea fleet before funding were reduces and ceased by the Ministry of Defense thus reducing the number of ordered vehicle from 120 initially to fewer than 30 and finally with 5 units only.
A-90 in pair low-flight above Caspian Sea
In the end only three unit were comissioned and continue its service with the Soviet Navy before it was decomissioned in 1993.
MD-160 Lun class ekranoplan of the Soviet Navy with six SS-N-22 Sunburn anti ship missile launcher
MD-160 LUN
The Lun also faced the same fate with only one unit survive and completed by Central Hydrographic Design Bureau before projet funding ceased. It has 8 Kusnetsov NK-87 turbojet mounted at the forward located canard delivering 127.4Kn of thrust each propelling her to speed up to 550km/h and   operating range of 1000km.
MD-160 Lun ekranoplan-note her 8 Kusnetsov NK-87 turbojet engine
Armed with six SS-N-22 Sunburn anti ship missile and a 23mm anti aircraft gun, the Lun were capable of surface to surface warfare though they were never deployed to fighting units.

 search radar mounted on her aft wing to provide guidance for the missile and craft
The design provided an effective method of performing a premptive strike against an enemy fleet.But subsequently budget cutback and the collapse of Soviet Union saw the Lun project were discontinued.

Presently only civilian ekranoplan were built on a scale much smaller than their predecessor for the purpose of transport and recreational.

-come to sea and see for yourself-

Sea Based X-Band Radar - countering ICBM threats

 Sea Based X-Band Radar

The Sea Based X-Band Radar 9SBX) is a part of Ground-Based Mid-course Defense (GMD) deployed by Missile Defense Agency (MDA).The radar system is mounted on on a Russian built CS50 semi-submersible twin hulled oil platform designed by Norwegian consortium.

Construction of the platform began at Vyborg shipyard before being converted for GMD purposes at Texas.Dynamic positioning capability enable precision station keeping in potential adverse sea states and weather conditions.

The SBX consist of four major operating system : vessel , X-Band Radar (XBR), In-Flight Interceptor Communication Sytem (IFICS) Data Terminal (IDT) and the Ground Midcourse-Based Defense (GMD) Communication Network (GCN).

The platform is 116m in length, 85m high and weighing 50 000 tonnes with complements of 75 to 85 person onboard.Primarily SBX task is to provide target discrimination by identifying missile warhead from decoys and followed by presicion tracking of the identified warhead.

Placing the radar system on a mobile platform at sea enhance missile defense capability where the radar can be deployed to cover any area on earth and its radar range is not restricted to curvature of the earth compared to land based radar systems.

The platform has many smaller radomes for various communications tasks.The central, large dome encloses and protects a phased array, 1,814 tonnes (4,000,000 pound) X-band radar antenna.

The phased array radar antenna itself is described as being 384 square meters. It has a large number of solid-state transmit-receive modules mounted on a hexagonal flat base which can move ±270 degrees in azimuth and 0 to 85 degrees elevation (although software currently limits the maximum physical elevation to 80 degrees).

The maximum azimuth and elevation velocities are approximately 5-8 degrees per second. In addition to the physical motion of the base, the beam can be electronically steered off bore-sight.

The phased array radar on the SBX derived from its AEGIS counter-part designed and built by Raytheon Intergrated Defense Sytems for Boeing with major difference of the system is that AEGIS use S-band to track target instead of  X-band.

The platform has an upper deck capable to carry the top structure of the hull 20 000 tons, and is adapted for installation of the both systems of dynamic positioning and passive positioning by means of anchors, and combined system of stabilization of the platform.

The design has been made to give maximum of flexibility for arrangement of alternative topsides depending on the end use of the platform; -as a drilling platform or as a floating production platform, or any other use. Thus the bare deck platform has a completely flat top deck ("main deck") on top of an enclosed double bottom structure of sufficient height to give the necessary strength for a deck load (topside weight) of about 20,000 tones.

To meet the huge electrical power consumption of the radar systems and the platform propulsion system on the SBX, six 12 cylinder Caterpillar diesel generator capable of producing 3.2 megawatts with future addition of two more generators to maintain the platform full operational capability in case of power failure.

Deployment of SBX in the Pacific region had increase MDA layered defense capability against missile threats.SBX is tasked to monitor any imminnent ballistic missile threats mainly from North Korea and China.

-come to sea and see for yourself-

Sunday, September 13, 2009

the story of watchkeeping officer - all hands to anchor station..!!

this is solely fictional and does not related to anyone alive or dead.however the scenario of the operation are genuinely similar to real life situation on any ships.procedures may vary depending on ships.

entering straits of gibraltar from the atlantic side

"Attention to all deck hands please proceed forward for anchoring...I repeat all deck hands please proceed forward for anchoring..thank you."

Announcement made by the second officer had woke me up from slumber.I can heard footsteps and calls from the other crew going for anchor station outside my cabin.I grab my coverall and proceed to station.I met chief officer on the way.He said that im late and passed me a VHF walkie-talkie.

"Your doing the anchoring today.Captain personal request.I`m gonna watch you from behind.Can you do it..?"

"Well chief..im not gonna say yes but since the old man insisted then i`ll do my best chief."

"Right on lad.Show him what you got."

"which side of anchor we`ll be using chief..?"

"port side anchor.."

MT Malaysian Freedom is heading towards Gibraltar outer port limit anchorage. The view were outstanding. The Rock of Gibraltar can be seen clearly since there is no cloud but only blue sky when we arrive.. There are also ships which had already anchored there, mostly gas carrier and tankers. The current economic recession had cause many ships being laid up by shipping companies.

Our ship weren`t affected but the recent off hiring by the charterer had bring us here in Gibraltar.Well at least we have a picturesque anhorage area with the great rock as a background with summer still in the air.

"How long are we gonna be here chief..?"

"Not long..a month maybe..ahh the longer the better.Its been a long time since i had a break."

"Haha..hopefully not too long.."

The anchor party are now gathered at the forecastle.All of them wearing a complete personal protective equipment. The anchor lashings,bow stopper and the hawse pipe cover were removed by the crew.The boatswain had the anchor windlass power turned on.He engage the windlass gear and waited for the next order.

"bridge..forward...radio check.."

"go ahead forward..receive loud and clear...3rd how is thing forward..?" ask the master.

"we just finished clearing up the lashings for port anchor.anchor cleared away.awaiting your order sir.."

"alright..walkback the anchor to 1m above the water 3rd.."

"copy that sir..walkback anchor 1m above water.."

I signalled the boatswain to lower the anchor.He release the brake and walk bak the anchor. The hydraulic powered windlass effortlessly brought down the large steel with addition to its cable slowly to intended height.

"bridge to forward....anchor now 1m above the water..awaiting your orders sir.."

"copy that forward..standby.."

"roger sir..standby.."

The ship moves slowly towards the anchorage. The engine speed has been reduce and the port control has been notified of our arrival at the outer port limit. Most of the time port control will give designated anchoring position which is clear and safe from other anchored vessels.The call from bridge had snapped me from daydreaming.

"forward..standby to let go port anchor..7 shackle in the water.."

"copy that sir standby to let go port anchor..7 in the water.."

I signalled the boatswain to standby.The gear has been disengage and the brake is on.Once the order to let go were given,the brake will be release to let go the anchor.

"ok forward let go port anchor.."

"copy that sir..let go anchor.."

The break is released and the anchor went down into the water followed by the cables. The speed of the release is regulated by the brakes although it is not practicable to do so since it will cause the brake to worn out much faster.

The bridge is informed every time the shackle were sighted. Continous monitoring on the shackle is made to ensure we didnt overshot from the intended length.

"forward to bridge...2 shackle in the water..up and down..."

"copy that forward..thank you"

Reaching the 7th shackle, bridge were informed and the brakes were put back on.The anchor cable were observed to determine whether it the anchor had been brought up or not.This is known when the cable change its nature from long stay to short stay which indicate the anchor is holding the ship on the seabed.

"forward to bridge..anchor brought up with 7 shackle in the water..direction 10 o`clock short stay"

"copy that..put the brakes on,disengage gear and secure forward...finish that then you guys can knock off...good job everyone."

"copy that sir..secure forward and knock off.."

The brakes were secured and the gear is then disengaged. Bow stopper and lashings is made fast by the crew while boatswain raised the anchor ball as day light signal to indicate other vessel that were at anchor.Hawse pipe cover were put back and secured to deny entry to the ship by person climbing the cable and trough the hawse pipe.

The ship anchored at the outer port limit 5.5 nautical miles from Europa Point. I count 8 other ships which also anchored at the outer port limit.Traffic in straits of Gibraltar is dense with vessels coming in and out from Mediterranean sea to Atlantic ocean and Europe while ferry service between Gibraltar and Tangiers in the African continent is frequent.

I head back towards the accomodation after having a final glimpse of forcastle and ensuring everything is in order. Chief officer is also with me and its also his responsibility to ensure everything is in good order.We walk together with the others to the accomodation and call it a day.

"its been a long time since i had european dunhill.."the chief said to me...

-come to sea and see for yourself-

Saturday, September 12, 2009

sea shanties of the olden days - Rolling Down to Old Maui

It's a damn tough life full of toil and strife
We whalermen undergo.
And we don't give a damn when the day is done
How hard the winds did blow.
For we're homeward bound from the Arctic ground
With a good ship, taut and free
And we don't give a damn when we drink our rum
With the girls of Old Maui.

Rolling down to Old Maui, me boys
Rolling down to Old Maui
We're homeward bound from the Arctic ground
Rolling down to Old Maui.

Once more we sail with a northerly gale
Through the ice and wind and rain.
Them native maids, them tropical glades,
We soon shall see again.
Six hellish months have passed away
On the cold Kamchatka Sea,
But now we're bound from the Arctic ground
Rolling down to Old Maui.

Once more we sail with a northerly gale
Towards our island home.
Our mainmast sprung, our whaling done,
And we ain't go far to roam.
Our stuns'l boom is carried away
What care we for that sound?
A living gale is after us,
Thank God we're homeward bound.

How soft the breeze through the island trees,
Now the ice is far astern.
Them native maids, them tropical glades
Is a-waiting our return.
Even now their soft brown eyes look out
Hoping some fine day to see
Our baggy sails runnin' 'fore the gales
Rolling down to old Maui.

-come to sea and see for yourself-

sea shanties of the olden days - South Australia

In South Australia I was born
Heave away. Haul away!
South Australia round Cape Horn
And we're bound for South Australia 
Haul away you rolling king
Heave away! Haul away!
All the way you'll hear me sing
And we're bound for South Australia

As I walked out one morning fair
Heave away! Haul away!
It's there I met Miss Nancy Blair
And we're bound for South Australia
There ain't but one thing that grieves my mind
Heave away! Haul away!
It's to leave Miss Nancy Blair behind
And we're bound for South Australia
I run her all night I run her all day
Heave away! Haul away!
Run her before we sailed away
And we're bound for South Australia
I shook her up I shook her down
Heave away! Haul away!
I shook her round and round and round
And we're bound for South Australia
And as you wollop round Cape Horn
Heave away! Haul away!
You'll wish that you had never been born
And we're bound for South Australia
I wish I was on Australia's strand
Heave away! Haul away!
With a bottle of whiskey in my hand
And we're bound for South Australia
In South Australia my native land
Heave away! Haul away!
Full of rocks, and fleas, and thieves, and sand
And we're bound for South Australia

-come to sea and see for yourself-

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Trough The Waves..Across The Seas

o god be good to me..thy sea is so wide and my ship is so small

-come to sea and see for yourself-

the story of watchkeeping officer - oh crap..pirates!! - part 2

-continuation from chapter 1..this is a fictional story and it got nothing to do with any living pirates of mariners alike but its an account which referred to real scenario-

those wearing black can start kicking doors all around

The C-130 H aircraft dispatched by the EU-NAVFOR had reached the area during daybreak. They found MT Malaysian Development steaming northwest towards the coast of Somalia. They reported the sighting and stayed airborne to provide support for the two frigates following the tanker from a far.

The pirates had made their demands to the shipping company for a ransom worth USD7 million in cash for the release of the ship and her crew.

A man approaches Abdel Umar when he dragged his skiff to the shore. He was a good friend of him and they had fought together at when they shot the US army helicopter. He havent seen Farouq Hussein in years.

"what brought u here my old friend..?"

"i have a job for you..i know its illegal but at least you can support your family with some money..buy them good food and clothes for this coming Eid.."persuade Farouq

"...oh yes Farouq,i would love to but i feel its better for me to stay away from pirating.And yet this body can still take on the strain of heaving up fish nets.."he told.

"oh dont be like that Umar...its only for a few days.They need a substitute when they brought the ship here.After they got their rest you can leave and i will pay you myself..USD 20 000.00 for two days.."

"that much..?" he stare in bewilderment.

Farouq Hussein leave his friend to do the thinking. They will meet again at the market coffee shop when Umar had make up his mind.

There is nothing the crew could do but sat on the floor. They weren`t allowed to go to their cabins and werent given any liberties of moving around the bridge either. They also eat on the bridge. The cook and his stewards prepare meals for atleast 42 person. Pirates included. The Sheikh himself commanded MT Malaysian Development.It seems that he was a mariners but leave his carrer for a more lucrative pirating business. The trawler followed closely behind. They saw the C-130H but did nothing since they were higher up. If they went too low then the pirates will start firing at it.

The pirates were almost everywhere onboard the ship. At least 4 men were at the forecastle, 5 at the aft station, and the remaining inside the accomodation and engine room. The C-130H made her last flypast before heading back to Manama. She was relieved by a USN P-8A maritime patrol aircraft. He was directed to provide mission coordination with the dispatched warships taskforce warships.

KD Lekiu was instructed to lead the assault against the pirates if the broke the rule of engagement. The Super Lynx were dispatched together with her NH-90 counter part from the French Navy frigate Surcouf of the EU-NAVFOR taskforce. They conduct surveillance and reconnaisance on MT Malaysian Development.

The RMN insisted to take out the pirates before they reach Somalia territorial waters. MT Malaysian Development still had another 200 miles from the coast before she was taken under full control of the pirates. A rescue plan were revised and the naval special operation unit will conduct raids on the tanker to take her back.

But further political dispute meant the operation cant be carried out and the fate of MT Malaysian Development will be similar to her counterpart the MT Bunga Melati Dua and 5. Further reconnaisance by helicopter were conducted on the following days.

On day 4 the Sheikh become frantic when his demand for USD 7 million were turned down for a much lower terms. It is when RMN Super Lynx were flying close to the ship when one of the pirates open fire. The helicopter werent hit but the pirate were shredded by gunshot he took from the NH90 had made things worst.

The RMN had decided that action had to be taken and the ship had to be liberated before things get out of hand. This time KD Kelantan, the Kedah clas NGPV were also came to assistance when she was relieved by USN destroyer.

It was in the darkness of day 5 of the hijacking when four RMN special operation squad approach the ship with RHIB and helicopters. The sniper sucessfully took out the guards at the aft station giving a clear entry for the boarding team. Another team had captured Natalya 32 and kept her crew from getting away.

Armed with MP5SD and integral supressor the team scatterd troughout the accomodation to look for the pirates. One by one they took them out and silently went to the  control rooms. Two of the pirates were shot dead at the lounge while another 3 inside the galley. Bodycounts increased and the special ops had the maintained the element of surprised.

The Sheikh didnt took any attention to the helicopter since they always fly close to the ship, but not to his knowledge, his men were taken out one by one. He was inside the chief officer cabin watching DVD on his new flat screen tv when a he was shot at point blanc by the special operation personnel. Only the men at the forecastle were remained unharmed and they also dont have the slightest idea of the current situation.

The engine room were re-taken and the engineer were released. He took over engine control and stopped the ship. The Sheikh henchmen on the bridge, notice the sudden changes to the engine speed called his boss with no return answer. He ordered one men to look for the Sheikh and that was the last time he saw him before he got a headshot while coming down to the staircase.

Mens at the forecastle were told to come back to the accomodation for sensing something had gone wrong. The Sheikh and the men at the aft station havent answered his radio call. He went outside to look for the men and that was his last view. RMN sniper took him out when he went outside to the brdgewing.

Captain Alex saw the opportunity and grabbed the only men inside the bridge. Helped by the crew, they managed to stripped him off his weapon and took him hostage. The RMN special operation personnel went up to the bridge and the seize control. The ship was liberated and the pirates were either dead or aprehanded.

The drama ended on the 6th day of hijacking. Only 8 out of 17 Somali were alive in the assault including the crew from Natalya 32. They had no idea when the Navy went onboard and they had a clear picture on how their Sheikh deid. The pirates were handed over to EU-NAVFOR Taskforce. The French would likely to extradite and prosecute them in France. The dead bodies were managed according to Muslim tradition and were given an ocean burial ceremony.

Meanwhile, the gun ridden and rocket battered MT Malaysian Development were directed to continue her voyage to Port Suez escorted by KD Lekiu. There she will be attended for repairs at the floating docks and her cargo will be transferred to her sistership MT Malaysian Enhancement. It will be a month before she could go back to sea.

The crew were relieved from duties and called back home.For them it was the longest 6 days in their life and they thanked god that they werent taken hostage for a much longer period just like what happened to their fellow conterparts during the Melati incidents.

On the coastal village in Somalia, Umar had decided no to join his friend. He rather work under the scorching sun than weilding weapons to those foreign men. He doesnt want his family to suffer if something happened since it is his responsibility to support the family.

"Thank you for the offer Farouq my friend..but i wont..i`ll stay where is should be.."

The success of RMN taskforce had become national headlines in every mainstream and underground media. Fanfare was made by the politicians and so called analyst alike, bullshitting the public acting  like they know what happened.

EU-NAVFOR praised the action taken by RMN but warns of the probability of the pirates hijacking  Malaysian registered ship had double. The same statement were made by the IMO secretary general.

RMN continue their operations in the gulf. KD Mahawangsa was relieved by the naval auxiliary ship Bunga Mas 5 and KD Selangor as her escort for the next 3 month period. Change over of guards were conducted at  Manama,Dubai. Outgoing ships had their provisions and fuel topped up there and preparing themselves to go back home. The relieving ships proceed to the gulf area to provide support and escort for Malaysian and foreign ships.

Although not expecting this kind of situation, Captain Alex defenitely were reliefed when the high seas drama was over with no injuries or deaths on his crew.

But one thing for sure. Captain Alex Cheang is coming back home for Christmas much earlier this year.

-come to sea and see for yourself-

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

the story of watchkeeping officer - oh crap..pirates!! - part 1

this is truly fictional.got nothing to do with anyone involved in the hijacking of our tankers years ago or any other incidents.it just plain fiction.

this guy might be the coolest pirate in the gulf..check out his ray-ban

Abdel Umar walks towards the seas with fishing nets in hand. He is in mid 40`s tall and dark wearing the same worn out clothes when he went out to seas. He got into a small skiff with his eldest son Ali. The skiff is owned by the village chief, who had at least 50 of them which is loaned to the villagers for fishing purposes.Working as a fishermen since childhood, its the only way for Abdel Umar to support his family of 8.

Abdel Umar had heard stories from other village where a man had become rich overnight. From a small hut it turned into a mansion with luxury car and bodyguards and satellite television and electric generator and refrigerator, the things he dreamed of having.He was curious but he dare not to seek the answer.

600 miles from the African continent, a 50 000 deadweight chemical tanker MT Malaysian Development carrying palm oil products from Pasir Gudang to various port in Europe. She was registered in Port Klang and managed by the nation 4th largest shipping consortium. She had Malaysian and Filipino crew manning her.

Captain Alex Cheang is the master of the vessel. The master is hailed from Penang, a 32 years old man who went trough the ranks real fast.Next to him a young third officer, Aziran Rudy whom were fresh from college and exams in less than a year.He hailed from the state of Sabah of Bajau Laut origins where his ancestors were also seafarers.

Both were scanning the horizon for any signs of suspicious craft. Traffic were not dense but a number of ships coming down and overtaking them is a sign that this is a regular shipping lane. The AB and cadet were posted outside on the bridge wing to watch the back.

"this area is notorious for pirates 3rd...don't keep your guards down.Keep the radar on and check on different range scale time after time..."

"yes sir..i will do that"

"anything call me lad..i`ll be downstairs"

The Natalya 32 is a large trawler where it had been waiting for the right prey for almost three days. Slightly different from regular Somali trawler, this one were built in Ukraine, hence it was hijacked by the pirates weeks ago with its crew were tossed in to the sea leaving their fate in hands of god and fishes. The skipper is known as Sheikh among his followers. Equipped with radiocommunication equipment,radar and GPS, the pirate mothership is capable of operating as far as 700 miles from the coast.

The men were heavily armed militia with experience in fighting against the government and international forces during the civil war. Today might be thier lucky day. A low freeboard vessel was spotted some 20 miles from their position. The men were called up to get ready for game hunting.

3rd officer Aziran made a log entry for 1900H and plotted the ship position. He went to the radar to scan the vicinity of any risk of collision and suspicious craft if there is any close by. Twilight sets in and the world fell into darkness. Navigation lights were the only indication for mariners to identify ships during the olden days but its importance is still highly regarded within the industry although one can determine a ship type trough AIS (automatic identification systems) and radar spot any vessels within its operating range even before the human eye could have a glimpse of the lights these days.

 Malaysian Development steamed trough the Indian Ocean at her service speed of 11 knots. Fully loaded with oleochemical products, she had a low freeboard thus making her an easy prey for pirates. Anti-piracy measures were implemented by rigging up fire hoses with high pressure water jet pointed towards embarkation points. The deck were purposely left slippery and all access were secured from inside. Still this measure couldnt stop any 7.62mm rounds or a rocket propelled grenade strafing on hundreds of ships in the past few years.

Natalya 32 follows her prey from 13 nautical miles distance. She had been shadowing the tanker for an hour and slowly catching up. The boarding crew prepared themselves with grappling hook attached to polypropelene, similarly used by the special forces unit to climb up from the ship side but lack of quality. But they dont need funky spec ops gadget because the are trained to use anything they can, even rigid ladder that being used at home to change lightbulb were once among their tool of the trade.

The Sheikh signalled the speed boat crew to cast off from Natalya 32 and proceed with the operation. 5 speed boat were launched by Natalya 32, 9 miles away from MT Malaysian Development.

The blips on radar shows a small object, probably a fishing boat at 11 nautical miles from the ship bearing 163 degree true. Its been there for an hour but the presence of the cloud had prevented the officer to determined whether its an object or an echo. He went to the port side bridge wing to scan the horizon. His cadet were doing the same thing.Nothing were sighted and the absence of celestial objects had made the condition worst.

Feeling uneasy, the officer went to call his master...

"Good evening sir..i think i got a suspicious craft shadowing us..no visual contact but they appear on radar sir.."

".....ok..im coming up..keep looking 3rd..i`ll be there in a moment"

The cadet saw a flickering light somewhere between the bearing indicated by radar. He had a good look there when he saw a shadow of a craft where the light flickered just then. He saw the light again and confirm the unknown craft visually. The master was acknowledged.

"He saw it visually sir.." said the officer.

"I bet its a mother ship cause no ship that small went out here for fishing..unless they were fishing ships and not fish..we need to increase speed 3rd..i`ll took over your conn."

"you have the conn, sir.." the officer answered him.The changeover of conn were noted in the log for record.

"change to manual steering and increase speed..lets outrun these bastards..."

"changeover to manual steering,sir..heading 295 steady..."the AB replied..

"..rpm increase to 110...speed now 12.5 knots increasing.."

"Inform the crew 3rd...tell them to make sure the ship is secure.If the doors are locked check again.Locked them again.Im going back for christmas this year and make damn sure were are going back..."

The master alerted the head office in Kuala Lumpur by setting off the SSAS (ship security alert system) while the cadet were instructed to broadcast emergency messages to all stations. The signal were received by the MRCC and the Head Office in seconds.

The 5 speedboat came up from behind MT Malaysian Development. One of the men threw the grappling hook from below and did it in one shot. In less than 2 minutes 3 men had boarded the ship. Their rifles and RPG`s were brought up later using ropes. Another boat came alongside and the men went up to the ship.
They signalled Natalya 32 using radio walkie talkie confirming the success of boarding the ship without anyone noticing. The men went up to the bridge trough access outside the accomodation.

The ship chief officer saw the men on the boat deck and called bridge to inform the master. The crew gathered in the lounge where its the safest place to be in this time. The chief officer made another sweep around the ship to make sure all access were locked from inside.

The staircase leading to the bridge were rigged with firehose in case of emergency. The AB went outside to turn the hydrant on when the pirate start shooting against him. Under fire he turned the hydrant to the fullest and the staircase were directed by high pressure water jet, to preventing anyone trying to get to the bridge.

More speedboat came alongside with more men occupying the ship exterior while waiting their mothership to come much closer . Natalya 32 was 3 nautical miles away from MT Malaysian Development when she was strafed by heavy machine gun fire from the trawler. The sea was a bit rough and the shots missed the bridge. More shots were fired but MT Malaysia Development is not giving up just yet.

"Captain..stop the ship or we will fire towards you..we have loads of rockets and im not going to hesitate to use it on your ship captain..please captain..stop.."

"God damnit now i have to stop for him..? who the hell is this guy...a tan sri or something..?"

Thinking that the master didnt take that word, the Sheikh decided its time to react. He ordered his men to shoot RPG toward the ship hull and this they did causing loud explosion on the starboard side of the ship. Luckily it hit the ballast tank and not the fuel tank.

Evasive manouvre were made but it is fruitless since the pirates are already onboard. But the ship still need to be save from gun and rocket fire. Another rocket were shot at and it hit the accomodation instead.

"While we still in control of the ship, no matter how many shots they fire im not going to surrender the ship..!!" said the Captain Alex.

80 miles from MT Malaysian Development, RMN taskforce received the emergency broadcast trough Inmarsat and MF/HF DSC. The taskforce consist of the navy logistic warship KD Mahawangsa and escorted by a Lekiu class frigate and a Kedah class NGPV. Two helicopters were stationed on both escort ship while navy special operation unit stationed on the Mahawangsa. 

"..shots were fired..possibly rockets and helluva guns strafing at us...requesting immediate assistance...I said again this is MT Malaysian Development..callsign nine mike echo foxtrot six..."

"My god...that is at least 800 miles from shore.."

"The FOC had been acknowledged by the shipping company and we have a go ahead from the CN...awaiting your orders sir..?"

"Get KD Lekiu to steam ahead to the scene..."

KD Lekiu is a frigate of the RMN with speed up to 30 knots. Equipped with helicopter landing and hangar facilities she went to assist the MT Malaysian Development. A Super Lynx helicopter crew and a naval special ops personnel were also onboard this warship. She went at full speed to render assistance.

Meanwhile the EU-NAVFOR taskforce who also received the emergency broadcast had dispatch a frigate which operating close to the RMN taskforce and a C-130 H from Manama,Dubai to assist in the rescue operation.

The Sheikh ordered the man to blast one of the door at the accomodation to gain entry. A man with a RPG do just that, firing the rocket at the starboard side weathertight door of the accomodation. However the shot didnt budge the door which is still intact. Being furious, the Sheikh went to the .50 fixation and start shooting at the door. Tracer fire can bee seen as far as 14 miles by other ships but they can only watch and avoid from being another victim.

The master still had his ship under his control and underway. MT Malaysian Development emergency broadcast had been answered by the RMN and EU-NAVFOR taskforce. It has been 2 hours since the pirates came onboard and ths ship suffer a considerable damage due to battering from the guns and rockets.

Feeling unsatisfied the Sheikh decided that he had to lead the men on the ship to gain control. It has been too long and help might be on the way. He ordered the helmsmen to alongside with the speedboat. He went onboard with 4 armed men. He went to the door that he blasted with guns just now to see whether it can be torn down. He took an RPG and start firing again towards the hinges. Two shots fired and the door came down like nothing.

The pirates went inside in two group, one group to the engine room while another went up to the bridge.

The master were informed that the pirates had broken trough by the chief officer. The engine were stopped. The engine room were taken over and the duty engineer were taken hostage. The pirates also ransacked all the cabins to find any valueable items, taking them as loot. The crew were herded to the bridge by the pirates and they took control of the ship after 2 and a half hours of struggle.

The captain now faced the Sheikh.

- end of chapter one -

-come to sea and see for yourself-

Beautiful Days

 the following  pic were taken while i was onboard MT Bunga Melati Satu.she was a fine but tough lady to deal with and i learn a lot from her.



i can hide under those pipelines..haha

summer morning at maas approach, rotterdam

sea state 2..the sea were almost like a mirror but not quite yet

sunset during canal approach at port suez

its in butterworth

 one fine lady and she doesnt wanna quit yet

these pic were taken when i was onboard MV Bunga Mas 11. she was quiet and she wasnt alone.her sisters from Teratai and Kenari class were close by.

the deck was empty..but the sunset was a priceless

Teratai 3 was getting a divine blessings

evening in the straits of malacca

partially obscured


-come to sea and see for yourself-

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

the story of a watchkeeping officer - man overboard ...!!?

this is purely a fiction especially the characters.the scenario and procedures taken by the character is based on likely real situation and there might be some loophole.other than that is fictional.this is just another way for me to study...

if u went overboard and never be found..ur fish food..!!

I was on 0800H-1200H duty when it happened. It occurs right after i finished my hourly log entry. The VHF walkie talkie was on and placed right next to the center gyro repeater. After having a glimpse on the radar i went to the center when suddenly i heard the bosun were screaming frantically on the radio.  

"man overboard...man overboard starboard side...man overboard starboard side...!!!" screamed that old man.

He was on deck with the other crew that morning to paint the ship side.It was chief officer`s project of the day.

I ran to the steering system, turn off the auto pilot and made a hard turn to starboard to avoid the person who fell overboard from being sucked into the ship propeller. The Williamson turn is a most effective recovery manouvre where the ship rudder were put to hardover position, creating a round turn. When approaching to near complete turn the ship rudder were set to midship thus resulting the ship to return to its original course in reciprocal manner.

Then i went to the bridge wing and release the man overboard marker. The marker, is a 4.5kg lifebuoy equipped with bouyant light and smoke signal, activated after it was released into the water to indicate the man overboard position.

 I ran back inside towards the chart room and took note of the current position.Then emergency alarm was sounded with seven or more short blast followed by one prolonged blast.right after that announcement was made.

"man overboard..man overboard..man overboard...all ship personnel please muster at your designated muster station..all ship personnel please muster at your designated muster station..."

The master came up an took over conn.He told me to call the engine room to have the engine on standby.

''What happened..?''

''Our AB went overboard sir at starboard side,he was working aloft...ship is now in moving hardover to starboard...''

''Ok..i took over conn. Call the engine room to have the engine on standby. Inform RCC and head office..Helmsman, maintain hard to starboard..''

''Right sir..''

The crew had mustered and accounted for except for the AB who went overboard.The bosun still pointing towards the victim position inside the water.

On the bridge the steering was put on manual and steered by the helmsmen while the engine speed were reduced.Extra lookout were posted outside to spot the victims.

Emergency broadcast was made trough the VHF to warn the traffic in the vicinity and the MRCC were informed of  the situation.

The ship had went reciprocal to it original course and the engine was ordered to dead slow.Rescue party were ordered by master to standby for recovery. The victim had been spotted clearly in the water drifting about 7 miles from the ship.He was holding on to the buoy.

The rescue boat was manned by 5 person and then it was lowered to recover the victim.The rescue boat crew were all suited up with immersion suit to avoid loss of body heat.The sea temperature is quite low since its the end of winter and the possibility of getting hypothermia is high.

The rescue boat approaches the victim at slow speed.The crew then pull him out of the water and quickly placed him in thermal protective aid to recover body heat.The victim was having an early hypothermia symptoms.If he stayed much longer in the water, he could have lost his life due to excessive loss of body heat.

The rescue boat were recovered and the victim were brought to the ship hospital for further treatments. 2nd mate were at the hospital checking the victim conditions. He was traumatic but will be fine in a few hours.

The ship went back to her original course and speed while the victim had recover from trauma. He is in stable condition now. Other ships, MRCC and head office were informed of the success of recovery operations.

Its lucky for the AB that the sea was not rough and he fell right where others could see him. If he was alone, SAR operation had to be conducted involving assets from aircraft to ships of the closest local authorities and it could be days before he was recovered since nobody knew exactly where he fell.

And lucky for me the rescue boat had operated without any failure. Seems those crappy check and maintenance hailed by superitendent were worth something after all.

''Gud heavens what a nice day..but still something could go wrong..''

-come to sea and see for yourself-

Monday, September 7, 2009

M.V Bunga Mas 5 - from merchant ship to naval auxiliary ship

before reading trough this article, i would like to inform readers that any statements made in this blog is purely personal and doesnt reflects any statements made by MISC or RMN.

the selection of Bunga Mas 5 were made after a series of discussion were made between MISC and RMN personnel in order to find a quick and cost effective solutions for RMN to maintain its capability and continue escort operations in the gulf of aden while providing MISC vessels with much needed protections against somali pirates.

 BM5 (ex-Bunga Mas 5) escorted by NGPV KD Perak towards Gulf of Aden

Bunga Mas 5 launched in 1997, is a 699 TEU`s container carrier and were built together with her sister Bunga Mas 6 by Malaysia Shipyard and Engineering (MSE) now known as Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering (MMHE) at Pasir Gudang.

Bunga Mas 5 was part of MISC 12 Mas class container carrier with average TEU of 700.Currently Bunga Mas Satu until Bunga Mas 4 were not in the fleet and had been phased out.The remaining vessels were Bunga Mas 5 until Bunga Mas 12.

 The 27 crew ship is fitted with two hydraulic cranes of 80 tonne safe working load, with service speed of 17 knots and operational land based and space based satellite communication systems fittedand GPS assisted navigation.

The vessel recently went trough conversion including modification to accomodate extra crew, fittings for launching rigid hull inflateble boats, a helicopter deck to accomodate landing and a hangar.The foreward crane of Bunga Mas 5 was taken out since it presence inhibited helicopter landing while the 2nd crane were rested to the starboard side of the ship above the hangar.

Labeled as auxiliary vessel and manned by MISC crew, conscripted into the navy reserve, with special operation troops onboard the ship is a signal that new warships is badly needed by the navy to fill in the gap on the absence of multipurpose support ships where all of them had been sent to Aden during the piracy breakout.The ships, KD Sri Inderasakti, KD Mahawangsa and KD Sri Inderapura are either undergoing refurbishment or engaged in other duties within malaysian waters.

However the current RMN warship, especially the multipurpose command and support ship and the LST were not fitted with helicopter hangar but only a landing pad, which in turn were also another feasible why the RMN opted to have a vessel such as Bunga Mas 5.Without a hangar, it is almost immposible for a taskgroup having much reliance to helicopter operations to conduct maintenance and service of the helicopter especially in rough sea going conditions.

On the contrary, the frigates and the NGPV`s had themselves equipped for helicopter operation, with enclosed hangar and landing pad capable to recieve an Augusta Westland Super Lynx or a AS555 Fennec helicopter.

Using merchant vessels for military purposes were common during the world wars, but Falkland conflicts clearly illustrate the importance, weakneses and the adaptability of these vessels, especially in conducting heliborne and amphibious operations.

Falkland conflict occurs in 1982 when Argentine military regime invade British oversea territory of Falkland. The conflict saw the deployment of naval assets some 8000 miles from home at the time where defense budget were reduced especially for the Royal Navy and their warships were destined for foreign sales or scrapped. Logistics were a nightmare, which saw the navy had inadequate assets to deploy troops and equipments to the theatre.

The action by the UK Ministry of Defense to requisition merchant ship to assist the fleet was made under the Ship Taken Up From Trade system.Vessels of different type were taken up to fullfill the logistic requirements of the Royal Navy which includes tankers, roll on - roll off carrier, container vessels, offshore support vessels, salvage tugs, freighters and cruise ships.

The most common conversion of all these vessel except for the tankers, is that they are fitted with helicopter landing pad. Atlantic Conveyor, a 14 590 tonne roll on-roll off container carrier and her sister ship Atlantic Causeway were used by the ministry of defense to carry 6 Royal Air Force Harrier GR.3 and 8 Royal Navy Sea Harrier jump jets plus a 6 Wesland Wessex and 5 Chinook helicopter.

Westland Wessex Helicopter(covered), Sea Harrier and Harrier GR.3 of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force onboard the Atlantic Conveyor.


Atlantic Conveyor during Falkland conflict. She also serves as aircraft and helicopter refueling platform before she was hit by an Exocet missile .

The Atlantic Conveyor were mainly an aircraft delivery vessel and it had a short lifespan during that conflict when she was hit by Exocet anti ship missile. Her sister on the other hand managed to survive the conflict serving as helicopter platform and aircraft refueling station. Conversion on Atlantic Causeway, particularly on aircraft refueling system were improved after the the loss of Atlantic Conveyor.

RFA Diligence (ex-Stena Inspector) was bought by Royal Fleet Auxiliary right after the war.

The Stena Seaspread and Stena Inspector were also came into the light during the conflict where both vessels provide repair services for battle damaged warships of the Royal Navy. The Seaspread and Inspector is an offshore support vessels engaged in operation at the North Sea oil field during the outbreak of Falkland conflict. The Inspector later known as RFA Diligence continue to served the fleet until today after UK government purchased her in 1983 and in active duties to support Royal Navy fleet deployments.
The adaptability of a merchant vessel operating for the military depends on the scenario of the conflict itself. In the case of Bunga Mas 5, the ship is adequately armed with either machine gun fixations or a much powerful .50 calibre gun fixations to ward off the oncoming pirate. Deployment of RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat) supported by helicopter are ideal in conducting raids against pirate.

Employing advance weapon suits such as chaff/flare or decoy for anti ship missile is unsuitable since the fight is largely against small armed guerilla and not foreign conventional naval force in this case, which is contrary to Falkland conflicts where threats came from aircrafts armed with bombs and anti ship missile.  

The deployment of Bunga Mas 5 to the Gulf of Aden had proves the public the capability of RMN to operate in long distance/long term operations to protect national interest and assets from the threats of piracy thus transforming the RMN from brown water to blue water navy.

Although lack of assets, RMN still had the capability to conduct naval operations and it had shown to the world while other nation with much more advance and capable forces, had to return home due to several factors that distrupt their operations, RMN stayed and continue to provide security under pressing circumstances.

On the other hand, Bunga Mas 5 conversion had proved the MMHE capability and the possiblity of another conversion is far from unlikely with more than 11 vessels laid up off the coast of Malacca, two of them were the Mas class vessel.

Sistership of Bunga Mas 5, MV Bunga Mas 6 is a likely candidate for future auxiliary conversion 


While were not going to war, the need for RMN to beefed up it fleet logistics capability is very demanding and it had signalled the politician how badly the navy need to keep up with the ever changing world.

Naval escorts and protections is a short term remedy in countering piracy threats. The presence of naval forces in the Gulf of Aden may not last forever and when the warships were gone, the number of piracy attacks and hijacking will defenitely spiralling high.

Maritime organizations had called for the political, social and economic stability in the Horn of Africa region as the long term solution and the best options for world nations in the efforts to fight against piracy. This will benefits all party from a Somali citizen to major shipping consortium. Stability in the region will provide better security and safety for maritime trade.

-come to sea and see for yourself-