KUALA LUMPUR – A number of Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN)’s submariners have spent over 10,000 hours of their lifetime underwater, diving with either one of the two Malaysian owned Scorpene submarines, said RMN Submarine Force chief of staff, Capt Baharudin Wan Md Nor.
The first Commanding Officer of Malaysia’s second submarine ‘KD Tun Razak’ said, the figure is outstanding compared to foreign submariners who on average retired at only 3,000 to 4,000 hours.
“We are about to enter our seventh year, there are some who have spent a year of their lifetime underwater.
“One year is 8,800 hours, some of us already have more than 10,000 hours,” he told reporters joining the KD Tun Razak’s Combined Anti-Submarine Exercise (Casex) with the French Frigate in the middle of South China Sea, recently.
Hence, Baharudin, who clocked more than 10,000 hours himself, asked reporters how this could be possible if the submarine could not dive, as the public and politicians had always alleged.
The KD Tun Razak arrived in the RMN base in Lumut, Perak on July 2, 2010 before it was stationed at the RMN base in Sepanggar Bay, Sabah on July 15, 2010, and is currently being commanded by its third Commanding Officer.
While the first submarine, KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, has also been stationed at the Sepanggar Bay naval facility since Sept 17, 2009.
Since both the French-made submarines arrived, there had always been wild accusations that the two submarines were unfit to dive, which according to Baharudin was “dissapointing and uncalled for”.
“We are not into politics, we are not fighting with you, we have nothing to do with whatever stories you have heard, we are just submariners.
“Trained to take the submarine out and make sure whatever missions given to us, we fulfill and it goes back to defending the country’s security, interests and sovereignty,” he stressd.
Contrary to the negative perception, Baharudin said local submariners were highly respected by the far more experienced submarine operating countries.
“The United States holds annual talk with us, every year they want to discuss with us, offers us this and that.
“While the French are willing to get out of their way to come here for Casex. Every year we meet them (French counterparts).
“They are all impressed by the way we developed our team and what we have accomplished in a short time,” he added.