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.
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.