NINE NAVY MEN SAFE AND SOUND
THE sailors, who went missing in an operation against foreign fishing vessels on Saturday, were spotted in their boat by an RMAF aircraft last night. The navy chief, in describing their condition, says the nine ‘look good from the air’.
AFTER almost 48 hours adrift at sea, nine Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) sailors who went missing following an operation against illegal foreign fishermen in Tanjung Sedili waters, Johor, were found safe and sound last night.
The boat they were in was spotted 90 nautical miles, off Kuantan, by a Royal Malaysian Air Force Beechcraft aircraft tasked with looking for the sailors following a report from a commercial vessel that it had spotted a boat in the area.
News of the find first came from RMN chief Admiral Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin, who tweeted that the boat had been spotted by the Beechcraft and that all nine sailors “looked good from the air”.
The sailors comprised an officer and eight rank-and-file personnel. They were launched in the boat from RMN’s first fastattack craft (missile) KD Perdana to board and investigate foreign fishing boats conducting illegal activities in Malaysian waters.
“The KD Perdana’s boat located by RMAF Beechcraft 90nm east of Kuantan following earlier sighting by a merchant ship. TQ to all,” was Kamarulzaman’s first tweet.
This was followed by: “They (boat crew) look good from the air. Thank you all for assisting in the Search and Rescue (SAR). Great team effort!”
Communications to the sailors were lost with the boat crew at 8.13pm on Saturday, not too long after they were directed to check on Vietnamese boats at a location 29 nautical miles off Tanjung Sedili, near Kota Tinggi.
Led by Lieutenant Mohd Hidir Yusof, the team comprised leading rates Mohd Zaidi Rahim, Mohamad Rabidzi Rodzian, Mohd Nurul Shahiran Salwi, Mohd Akmalnizam Amdan and Suhaimi Shamsudin, and able seamen Faisal Iskandar Alias, Mohd Fitri Ab Melek and Zulhusni Sherhutdin.
Tanjung Sedili District 7 Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency chief Captain Amran Daud said the crew and boat would likely be taken to the Territory 1 naval base in Tanjung Gelang, Kuantan.
A statement from RMN had earlier said communications were lost during fair weather and sea conditions.
“Before the boat went missing, the boarding team and KD Perdana were in operation to chase away the foreign vessels. The last location of the boat, before communications was lost, was about 29 nautical miles off Tanjung Sedili Besar. The weather was fine, with waves at between 1m and 1.5m in height, while winds were reported to be between 20kph and 30kph,” said the statement.
It is learnt that KD Perdana had reported seeing 10 Vietnamese boats in Tanjung Sedili waters at 8.09pm on Saturday and pursued them. Five of those foreign boats were directed to go towards the Exclusive Economic Zone, while the other five foreign boats headed north.
KD Perdana was later able to trace five of the boats. The boarding team was directed to conduct a search on the boats at a location two nautical miles west, while KD Perdana chased the other foreign fishing boats.
KD Perdana lost contact with the boarding team boat at 8.13pm and a search was initially conducted at four sectors surrounding the area.
Later on, a foreign fishing boat informed RMN that they saw a boat “floating” about 20 nautical miles from the search area.
However, a team despatched to that spot did not find anything. KD Perdana attempted to re-establish contact with the missing boarding team, but to no avail.
It is learnt KD Perdana had also searched in waters off Pulau Pemanggil and Pulau Sibu, and covered a 10 nautical mile area south of Pulau Aur. Following the failure of KD Perdana to locate the sailors, RMN launched a searchand-rescue operation with the assistance of MMEA.
Tanjung Sedili Area Fishermen Association members, upon hearing about the missing sailors, joined in the search aboard their boats.
Navy assets used in the operation included KD Perdana, KD Perkasa, KD Pendekar, KD Handalan, KD Terengganu, KD Kelantan, a “Pengalang 39” boat, a “Kilat 16” boat, a Super Lynx helicopter and a Fennec helicopter, while a SAR operations room was opened at the naval base in Tanjung Gelang.
A rigid hull inflatable boat similar to the one that went missing in Tanjung Sedili waters off Johor.
A screengrab of RMN chief Admiral Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin’s tweet of the discovery of the missing boat and sailors.
RMN chief Admiral Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin
MMEA Captain Amran Daud