PETALING JAYA: A week before 2011 raya I got the chance to board and check out KM Kukup, a former Kedah class patrol vessel, now in service with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA). Kukup is based in Port Klang, MMEA district region 4. Kukup and her sister ships, 14 of them I believe, are now called the Sipadan class after small islets across the country.
Kukup, like other ships of the class, is almost as old as the country itself. Her crew are much younger than the ship which could barely muster 10 knots now-days, which is not good if they happen to encounter those 4 engine speed boats used to smuggle cigarettes and other stuff. For those fleeting encounters, Kukup and its sister ships have to rely on other MMEA assets to give chase as those speed fiends will run circles around them.
From August 1, MMEA is the sole maritime enforcement agency in the country taking over from host of bodies from marine police to customs. A huge undertaking for an agency sorely needing a boost especially in terms of funding. So for now the agency has to rely on assortment of old vessels like Kukup to do the dirty job as they wait for new vessels to be ordered.
The bridge of Kukup was off limit to nosy reporters but one can see from the forecastle that it is now equipped with a flat screen monitor. Apart from the sole 40mm Bofors gun, there was no other gun or mounts seen deck. Although I had my doubts, the captain insisted that the Bofors was still workable so I guess we have to trust him on that.
With no huge capital outlay available for MMEA in the near future, I am guessing that Kukup and her sister ships will still be around when we celebrate the 70th Merdeka celebrations. A horrible thought indeed.
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