KUALA LUMPUR: It started off humbly as ‘Brown Water Navy’ with a small force and smaller patrol boats on April 27, 1934.
Today, the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) can be rightly proud of its long history of achievements as it is regarded as a world-class ‘Blue Water Navy’ that is capable of operating across the deep waters of open oceans.
Going through a long and challenging evolution for the past eight decades, has put this nation’s defence agency as an experienced frontliner, especially in leading other navy troops in the ASEAN region.
RMN chief, Admiral Datuk Seri Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin said the achievements that RMN enjoyed today were the result of continuous commitment and determination of its members since a long time ago.
“The RMN has gone through quite a number of changes. We were just a coastal navy at one point but now we are world class,” he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama recently, in conjunction with RMN’s 82nd anniversary this Wednesday.
He said as RMN turned 82, it must not look behind anymore. Instead, it must continue to develop and implement effective strategies to further strengthen its position and roles, especially in facing challenges in the ever increasingly complex national waters.
Sharing on RMN’s current preparations in dealing with the risk of such challenges, Ahmad Kamarulzaman said it had often taken part in joint exercises with the naval force of other countries to enhance the skills and knowledge of its personnel.
Apart from that, he said, RMN’s strength covered three dimensions at sea, namely above the surface, on the surface and underneath. As such, the enemies cannot underestimate what RMN is capable of.
However, Ahmad Kamarulzaman said the fiscal challenge RMN was facing now due to budget cut by the government was just an internal challenge that had to be dealt with wisely without jeopardising its roles.
He said although affected by the uncertain global economy, this was not an excuse for RMN not to function as best as possible, particularly when it involved national security and sovereignty.
The navy, he said, must be able to balance up in managing its finances, especially in protecting the country’s waters amid such an economic situation.
“The sluggish global economy has been affecting us. However, the people and the government want us to do our part effectively. And, that is what we are doing,” he said.
Despite the fiscal challenge, Ahmad Kamarulzaman sees that as a blessing in disguise because it has forced the RMN leaders to be more creative and innovative in finding alternatives in serving the country without affecting its operations.
He said the RMN had used a different kind of approach to produce outstanding results by implementing the 15-to-15 Fleet Transformation Programme. The programme saw a restructuring of 15 classes of vessels to only five classes.
Ahmad Kamarulzaman said the restructuring programme from bigger to smaller vessels had saved a lot in operating costs.
“We used to have 15 types of vessels from seven different countries with the average age of 30 years. After a study done, we realised that the operating costs for these vessels were very high.
“Hence, the reason we reduced them to five classes of vessels, namely littoral combat ship, new generation patrol vessel, littoral mission ship, multi-support ship and submarine.”
He said such approach had attracted attention from other countries and that they were interested to find out about the method used while planning to embark on a similar transformation programme.
Meanwhile, focus is also given to enhancing human capital including through the ‘The Navy People’ concept in order to build strong personality and integrity among RMN personnel.
This concept is also to instill camaraderie and pride towards RMN, thus upholding the objectives of its establishment and in ensuring its ‘family’ members are always highly motivated and spirited.
Ahmad Kamarulzaman said the RMN, with 17,044 personnel in total, wanted to recruit more people, especially among the non-Bumiputeras.
“In fact, we have drawn up strategies and taken an additional initiative by optimising the social media to attract other races to join the navy,” he said.
RMN Day 2016 with the theme, ‘RMN Prepared, Waters Protected’, will be celebrated this Wednesday at all its bases.