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chief Ad­mi­ral Tan Sri Ah­mad Ka­marulza­man Ah­mad Badarud­din.

Lead­ing Rate Mohd Zaidi Rahim said they re­mained pos­i­tive on the first day but grew anx­ious dur­ing the sec­ond and third day.

“We did not have food sup­ply and re­lied only on bot­tled drink­ing wa­ter to give us some en­ergy. Fear­ing we might need to spend a longer time at sea, the nine of us shared one small bot­tle (500ml) of wa­ter and took turns to have sips.

“At night, we could only look to­wards the sky... we were wor­ried about mer­chant ships crash­ing into our boat. Some of us took naps and we talked about our fam­i­lies and chil­dren back home... many things passed through our minds.”

Able Sea­man Zul­husni Sher­hur­din, 25, said all of them drank wa­ter us­ing the bot­tle cap as the wa­ter had be­come pre­cious.

“Sev­eral hours af­ter los­ing con­tact with KD Per­dana, our boat ran out of petrol and sea cur­rents pushed it fur­ther.

“When we were a dis­tance from KD Per­dana, we tried to get close to it by row­ing our boat but the cur­rents were too strong.

“We prayed that some­one would find us and ev­ery­thing would end hap­pily, and our prayers were an­swered.”

The team, which in­cluded Lieu­tenant Mohd Hidir Yu­sof, lead­ing rates Mo­hamad Rabidzi Rodzian, Mohd Nu­rul Shahi­ran Salwi, Mohd Ak­mal­nizam Am­dan and Suhaimi Sham­sudin, and Able Sea­man Mohd Fitri Ab Melek, had been or­dered by the KD Per­dana com­man­der to board il­le­gal for­eign fish­ing boats while it pur­sued other such ves­sels.

How­ever, con­tact was lost with the team at 8.13pm on Satur­day and KD Per­dana launched a search for them.

On Sun­day, RMN launched a search-and-res­cue op­er­a­tion, as­sisted by the Malaysian Mar­itime En­force­ment Agency and fish­er­men. It was not un­til late Mon­day even­ing, how­ever, when word was re­ceived from a mer­chant ves­sel that a boat was spot­ted drift­ing off the coast of Kuan­tan.

A Royal Malaysian Air Force Beechcraft mar­itime pa­trol air­craft was de­ployed to lo­cate the boat, even­tu­ally find­ing it 90 nau­ti­cal miles from Kuan­tan.

Ka­marulza­man said a board of in­quiry led by a se­nior RMN of­fi­cer would probe the cause of the in­ci­dent.

MUHAM­MAD ASYRAF SAWAL PIC BY

Royal Malaysian Navy chief Ad­mi­ral Tan Sri Ah­mad Ka­marulza­man Ah­mad Badarud­din (third from left) meet­ing the nine res­cued sailors at Tan­jung Ge­lang in Kuan­tan yes­ter­day.

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