ship maintenance in Malaysia.

How the Royal Malaysian Navy Helps Thwart Maritime Piracy

Maritime piracy has been a persistent threat to international shipping ever since the 1800s. Piracy costs countries and businesses billions worth of losses per year, but piracy is more prevalent in some areas than others. One such area is the Strait of Malacca. The Strait of Malacca is one of the most important trade routes in the world and especially to Southeast Asia. Its economic importance, narrowness, and thousands of tiny islets make it an ideal place for piracy to take place.

In the 1830s, piracy in the Strait of Malacca was especially rampant and mostly targeted ships by the British East India Company. This prompted the predominant maritime powers in the region such as the Dutch Empire to work with the British in curbing piracy. 

In the 2000s, piracy in the region was still a big problem and heavily disrupted trade to and from Singapore and China. In response to the increasing threat, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore stepped up efforts to curb piracy in the region with increased patrol ship presence. Eventually, in 2006, the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard agreed to join the four countries’ anti-piracy efforts. Due to the combined effort of these countries, in 2011, the region achieved a “close-to-zero incident level” according to General Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Azizan Ariffin, the Chief of Malaysian Defense Forces at the time.

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The Malaysian Royal Navy has had a significant hand in curbing piracy in the region, thanks to its highly trained soldiers and the increased importance given to modernization and ship maintenance in Malaysia.

One incident in which the Malaysian Royal Navy came out triumphant was in the 2015 hijacking of the MT Orkim Harmony tanker which occurred on 11 June 2015 off the coast of Tanjung Sedili, Kota Tinggi, Johor. The ship was hijacked by eight armed Indonesian pirates. The ship held a crew of 22 people including 16 Malaysians, 5 Indonesians, and 1 Myanmar national as well as 6,000 metric tons of petroleum valued at about RM 21,000,000. A few days later, the ship was recovered, and on June 19, the Royal Malaysian Navy rescued all hostages on board.

The Royal Malaysian Navy also has a stake in international anti-piracy measures, too. Since 2009, the Royal Malaysian Navy has been regularly patrolling the Gulf of Aden, which is north of Somalia, to curb piracy. The Navy had foiled numerous hijacking attempts against Malaysian ships such as in 2011 when the Navy foiled a hijacking attempt against the MT Bunga Laurel, a Malaysian chemical tanker. The Navy rescued all 23 crew members on board and captured seven Somali pirates.

The Royal Malaysian Navy is one of the biggest maritime authorities in Southeast Asia and is Malaysia’s first line of defense against maritime attacks, whether it be direct attacks on the country or maritime piracy. The Navy’s rigorous discipline, training, willingness to serve and persistent modernization efforts have ensured that the waters around Malaysia are safe from pirates and any other bad actors for many years now and for many more years to come. 

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