New Straits Times
KD YU — STAYING VIGILANT FOR NATION
The sacrifices of her crew ensure that the waters off Sabah stay safe for the local communities
THE job of a commanding officer (CO) in a warship is becoming challenging. Lt-Cdr Mohd Zayyani Mohd Fauzy of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) can attest to this after serving as the captain of KD Yu for more than 1½ years.
With a crew complement of 40 officers and sailors, Zayyani commanded the
Jerong-class fast-attack craft from December 2017 until July 2019.
KD Yu was commissioned on Nov 15, 1976, which means she will be celebrating her 43rd anniversary on Friday.
Captaining a warship for the first time, Zayyani had to manage his crew’s morale, competency and capability. He also had to handle an ageing vessel in terms of readiness and seaworthiness, on top of executing KD Yu’s many assignments.
Based in Sandakan under Naval Region II Command, the ship is assigned to patrol the waters of eastern Sabah.
Under Zayyani’s command, KD Yu had undertaken bilateral and multilateral operations, such as the Trilateral Maritime Patrol initiative with the Philippine and Indonesian navies, besides patrols and exercises with other RMN vessels.
KD Yu had actively taken part in community-related activities with littoral maritime communities to establish better rapport and increase awareness of the RMN’s presence in their areas of living, where they earn their livelihood.
For the whole of last year, the ship was out at sea for 227 days, with each voyage lasting days, or even weeks, at a time.
This means the ship’s crew had spent only 138 days ashore with their families and loved ones.
The situation is similar for most ships in the RMN fleet, with each spending more time at sea in a year. Missing birthdays, important milestones of a child’s growth, weddings and even deaths of loved ones is not easy for the crewmembers.
The more experienced sailors are usually unperturbed as technology has helped tremendously in connecting the ship’s crew with their loved ones.
Still, it is not the same as being there when you are needed.
For Zayyani, taking care of the people under his command also means taking care of the welfare of their families through various channels.
When ashore, he took the initiative to gather his crew and their families for a group outing once a month. Such outings gave Zayyani the opportunity to show his appreciation to the ship’s company.
He instilled in his men a sense of ownership of KD Yu, that each of them was responsible for the operations of the vessel.
As she is already in her fourth decade of service, maintenance becomes the key to a safe and reliable vessel.
Each crewmember is well aware of the importance of preparing for a mission and returning safely. Nobody wants to sail on board a ship that is deemed to be not seaworthy.
The same goes to all RMN vessels operating day in, day out in the Straits of Malacca, the South China Sea, the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea. A “healthy” ship is vital for RMN to fulfil its task of protecting Malaysia’s maritime sovereignty.
The presence of Malaysian warships in its territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone acts as a deterrence to crossborder crimes that are now on the rise, posing a new kind of threat to an already challenging situation with regard to maritime security.
Last year, KD Yu won the Agong Cup, which was presented by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah at the 85th Navy Day parade recently.
The Agong Cup was bestowed by His Majesty upon the RMN ship with the highest state of operational readiness in terms of number of days at sea in a calendar year. It was for the same reason that KD Yu won the Eastern Fleet Commander Cup this year.
There was no doubt that winning the Agong Cup was a great honour for the crew of KD Yu, but the passage that the ship had gone through to achieve that success was never plain sailing.
It was a sacrifice between duty and family, where the crewmembers gained on one side but, to some extent, lost a bit of the other.
Seeing the Agong Cup pennant flying on the ship’s mast will surely make the crew proud of their accomplishment, but it will not replace the time that they were away from their loved ones.
Today, the task of continuing the legacy of KD Yu’s success rests on the shoulders of her new CO, Lt-Cdr Hasanal Aswad Rusli.
I wish you all the best, captain.