Here’s what The Star blares as a frontpage headline on today’s paper:
Ops Fajar mission accomplished
LUMUT: Seeing the relief on the faces of the hijacked crew members will stay with Kapt Mohd Zahari Jamian of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) for a long time.
The KD Lekiu commanding officer was happy to escort the two Malaysian International Shipping Corporation (MISC) shipping vessels – MT Bunga Melati Dua and MT Bunga Melati Lima – safely to Djibouti.
“It was a triumphant moment for us to be able to bring the crew back safely to their families to celebrate Hari Raya,” said Kapt Mohd Zahari yesterday at a ceremony for the Ops Fajar rescue mission members at the naval base here.
The MT Bunga Melati Dua, with 29 Malaysian and 10 Filipino crew members, was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden on Aug 19 while the MT Bunga Melati Lima, with 36 Malaysians and five Filipino crew members, was hijacked 10 days later.
Wow! How heroic of our Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN)! That must have been some heroic drama or dramatic heroism, rushing in with guns blazing to rescue the frightened seafarers from the vicious pirates, no?
The crew of both vessels were eventually released on Sept 27 and Sept 29, respectively, after a ransom was paid for the two vessels.
So the ‘Mission Accomplished’ that The Star so grandiosely touts is, in fact, actually Royal Malaysian Navy escorts hostages home after ransom is paid.
Excuse the snark, but wouldn’t a more accurate title be something like…
Hostages rescued by heroic ransom money
Royal Malaysian Navy plays babysitter
After all, what scurvy sea dog wouldn’t cringe at the bone-chilling sight of $4 million of heaily armed, bloodthirsty cash? Yarr! Shiver me timbers!
But don’t get me wrong… It’s not like our local Adeptus Astartes chapter didn’t face great dangers and nigh insurmountable tests of the manlihood while on their almost suicidal mission. Suicidal, I say. Kamikaze. Shaheed.
Recalling the escort mission to Djibouti, Kapt Mohd Zahari said it was quite tense as there were many other pirate factions in the Gulf of Aden.
“There is always news of pirates hijacking ships everyday and all officers on deck had to be on high alert.
“There’s a possibility that the two ships which had been released could be hijacked again by a different group if we did not escort them,” he added.
The God-Emperor of Man forbid that their warships should run into a sampan full of heavily armed, merciless, fly-fishing geriatric retiree anglers. It would be utter, chaotic devastation and horrifically gruesome death. For the warships.
Meanwhile, to avoid just such a disadtrous occurence, the brave and macho Space Marines trained and prepared themselves… By playing Risk.
Kapt Zahari said all officers had to run through a “table-top” war game.
“On our way there, we discussed all likely scenarios and counter-measures to be taken should negotiations fail.
“Luckily, the negotiations went well and we did not need to storm the hijacked ship,” he added.
Kapt N. Ganesh, who is KD Inderapura’s commanding officer, said all members aboard his vessel were also tense during the operation.
“They knew it was no longer a training exercise but a real mission where lives were at stake,” “There is no telling how long we could be there pending negotiations with the pirates,” he added.
Yup, Risk ‘with dice’ is about as close to risk ‘with danger’ as they ever got.
And the Royal Malaysian Navy crew’s biggest, death-defying, life-threatening challenge?
Kapt Ganesh noted the biggest challenge in their mission was to maintain high morale among the rescue team.
“As it was fasting month then, everybody was feeling restless and some of the members were getting seasick,” he said, adding that sports and training sessions were organised to keep them in high spirits.
Hungry and dizzy? Squad broken! At least until they can Rally! to a game of captain ball. Or maybe hopscotch.
Oops. That was a reference to Warhammer 40k right there. I blame the seasickness.
Maybe it was a better call to pay the ransom then. Glucose deprived, seasick government employees VS rum-swilling, self-employed privateers? No contest.
I mean, come on! Even the French have braver commandos than us?!
French commandos stormed a sailboat to free two French tourists who were being held by heavily-armed Somali pirates, President Nicolas Sarkozy has said.
One pirate was killed and another six captured in the lightning raid, which lasted 10 minutes. The hostages were unharmed.
“France will not allow crime to pay,” declared Mr Sarkozy, who dispatched the commando unit after receiving information that the pirates were approaching a highly-protected coastal base, where rescue efforts would have been far riskier.
The French!!! (More on their non-Surrender Monkeying here.)
Maybe I should seal myself into a nuclear bunker for the next 50 years to avoid the carnage that will ensue when Singapore handily conquers Malaysia.
Did I say Singapore? Slip of the tongue. Likely even Sentosa by itself would be enough to defeat our entire stuper-pendously powerful military.
But to their credit, Malaysia is cited as providing ‘support’ to the French warriors:
With the backing from a French warship stationed nearby, some thirty commandos swooped on the pirates. They received support from Germany and Malaysia, according to the Elysée.
By running nerve-wracking sessions of Risk late into the night, no doubt.
PS. The RMN can blame The Star for spinning a huge, fat pile of NOTHING into a quasi-epic tale of mythical proportions, which led to my snark.
That having been said… Next time, send The Village People!!!
PPS. Now this is more like it! From The Star 20 Dec 2008:
Quick response from RMN ship saves vessel
PETALING JAYA: Armed Somali pirates that boarded Chinese crane ship Zhenhua 4 were about to blow the bridge wide open when the Royal Malaysian Navy came to the rescue.
Nine pirates ran helter-skelter without firing a single shot after there were surprised by the twin machineguns of KD Sri Inderasakti’s Fennec helicopter gunship.
The crew on the Zhenghua 4 had earlier locked themselves on the bridge and held off the pirates, which came on two skiffs, for several hours.
The Fennec gunship’s response was the first time an aircraft was deployed to engage pirates holding a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden.
RMN Fleet Operations Commander Vice-Admiral Datuk Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin said the Sri Inderasakti was in the right place and the right time in the pirate-menaced Gulf of Aden on Wednesday when it received a distress call from Zhenhua 4.
“And the response from Sri Inderasakti’s response was swift,” he added.
Relating the incident, Ahmad Kamarulzaman said that the RMN ship received the distress call from the Chinese ship at 8.30am (local time).
“Commanding officer Kapt Mohamad Adib Abdul Samad immediately despatched the Fennec gunship.
“At the same time, a request from the European Union’s CTF150 taskforce also came in for us to lend assistance and do whatever was necessary to deter the pirates because we were the nearest vessel to the Zhenhua 4,” he told The Star when contacted in Singa- pore.
Covering 45 nautical miles at 80 knots per hour, the Fennec piloted by Leftenan Muliadi Mohd Noor and air quartermaster Petty Officer Haniffaa Haironi reached Zhenhua 4 in less than 15 minutes.
“After quickly assessing the situation, Haniffaa fired several warning shots across the bow of the Zhenhua 4. This created panic among the pirates,” he said.
One of the pirates’ skiffs also sank in the battle but not from the Fennec’s gunfire, said Ahmad Kamarulzaman.
Not long after, Dutch warship HDMS Absalon of the European Union’s CTF150 taskforce arrived to escort the Zhenhua 4 to its destination.
Ahmad Kamarulzaman said that the RMN is sure that there were other pirate vessels in the area as the gunship crew saw what they believed to be the “mother ship.”.
The Inderasakti had taken over from the KD Mahawangsa on Dec 12 in the ongoing Ops Fajar to safeguard Malaysian merchant vessels plying the dangerous Gulf of Aden.
UPDATE JAN 2011: This time around, the Malaysian Navy actually fought with the pirates and won!