Mutiara Decommissioned

LUMUT: Mutiara Decommissioned. KD Mutiara, one of two hydrographic ships of the navy was decommissioned today, some 41 years after she was put into service with the RMN.

She is the second – though the first Kapal DiRaja – to be decommissioned under the service 15 to 5 transformation plan. The first ship to be decommissioned as part of the plan was a tug boat, Kepah. Kepah was formerly known as KTD Kepah.

Mutiara after her decommissioning

Mutiara was commissioned on Dec. 18, 1977, at the RMN Woodlands base. Since her entry into service, Mutiara had sailed some 220,000 km most of it on hydrographic missions. Among the notable missions performed by Mutiara was the surveying of the Terumbu Layang-Layang in the South China Sea in the early 1980s and the search for the MH370 in the Indian Ocean in 2014.

KD Mutiara shortly before her decommissioning

She was built in late 1975 at the Hong Leong shipyard at Butterworth and launched on September, 1976. Her first captain, Cdr. Goh Siew Chong, who retired as Captain were among the 14 former COs present at the decommissioning ceremony. After Goh, Mutiara had 17 other COs with the last was Cdr Khairul Annuar Abdul Aziz.

End Of Line. Sailors of KD Mutiara pulling down her ensign for the last time.

In the course of her service, some 2250 officers and sailors were trained onboard. With the retirement of Mutiara, RMN has only one hydrographic ship in service, KD Perantau. Since 2016, the navy had contracted a private company to provide a ship to allow RMN hydrographers to conduct the same surveys as done by Mutiara and Perantau.

Some of the former COs of KD Perantau. The first on the left is Cdr Goh, the first CO. The lady seated is the widow of the sixth CO who had passed away.

Mutiara costs only RM35 million went built in 1975, though the cost of maintenance, fuel and personnel during her 41 years had amounted to RM1 billion, says RMN chief Adm. Kamarulzaman Badaruddin.

Kamarulzaman said the contract ship had achieved the target to operate 300 days in its first year.
“The cost of the ship for 300 days was only RM14.9 million compared to the RM44.5 million needed to operate KD Mutiara for the same period. In terms of performance, the contract ship will be able to survey on four years, the same area covered by Mutiara during her 41 years in service.

Sailors of Mutiara pulling her ensign and decommissioning penant at the ceremony

“It is clear the use of the contracted platform had a great impact in terms of cost savings, the main objective of the navy’s 15 to 5 transformation plan,” he added.

KD Mutiara sailor ringing her bell for the last time. The bell was rang 41 times to mark her years in service with RMN.

Kamarulzaman says Mutiara will be offered for sale. He says Mutiara was still good enough to do anything the new owners might want to do with her.

–Malaysian Defence

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