Short note from UPBB
Received this write-up via email. It was written by one of the sailing crew of KD Rahmat as a complement to an earlier article written by another sailing crew, the article of which was posted HERE.
These untold stories of myth, or hearsay, or facts, and of mystery and misery of KD Hang Jebat aka KD Rahmat F24 have been embedded in my hard disk (memory) for more than four decades. Before this cramped hard disk goes ‘kaput’, I would like to offload some of its content so that it can be shared with surfers of UPBB. Thereafter, it is up to the readers to make their own conclusions.
- During the construction of KD Hang Jebat, one dock worker died on board when the crane carrying metal bars hit him.
- On the day of launching, the container containing the holy water brought from Malaysia for the launching ceremony was found to be empty. What happened after they found the container empty and where they got the replacement, that I do not know.
- While undergoing trials, KD Rahmat lost an anchor in Scottish territorial waters around Greenock.
- From laying the keel until after launching, KD Hang Jebat had endless problems. Repeated delays in delivery of the ship prompted MINDEF to send a team of high powered experts to investigate and find the reasons.
All sorts of reasons (or excuses) were given. Finally one smart and creative Bomoh who was in the team came up with a reason that (KD) Hang Jebat refuses to go back and face big brother (KD) Hang Tuah. The Bomoh then suggested that the ship be renamed. This recommendation and a number of others were brought up to the-powers-that-be in Kuala Lumpur. After some deliberations, they agreed to rename the ship and hence KD Rahmat was born. At the same time, a new Commanding Officer was appointed.
However, problems still persist long after that.
(If only Raja Bomoh with his two coconuts and telescope (lukah) was there…maybe the script would have been different).
- On the day of commissioning and acceptance at Portsmouth, the ship’s crew were mustered at the heli deck. We noticed that our Commanding Officer looked very unhappy. The crew could somehow understand his heavy responsibilities. Perhaps, if he was given a free hand to decide, he would probably refuse to accept KD Rahmat in such a pathetic condition – far from being sea worthy.
The crew believed he was elbowed by the top brass from MINDEF to take delivery and sail the ship home.
- Going back to the day before leaving for UK, we were told that our stay in UK will be for 3 months for training and familiarization and sail the ship back. In the end, we ended up more than 15 months in UK.
For our clothing, we were told to get it done by RMN contractor tailor at High Street, Singapore where our warm/winter clothing were made – 1 coat, 1 suit, complete with trousers and 2 sets of black sixes.
Other clothing like “long john”, etc. was issued by KD Malaya store. On joining the ship, we were issued with 2Bs (RN type), Burberry overcoat, submarine jersey and wind-breaker jacket.
We were given $144.00 (Malaysian Dollars, not Ringgit Malaysia) for our baggage allowance (over weight baggage) plus one month advance gaji. Fifteen of us flew on Malaysia-Singapore Airways (MSA) Boeing 707 at midnight from Singapore for Scotland.
Our first stop was Calcutta, India, second stop was Bahrain and the third was Rome, then to Heathrow Airport. From there we took a connecting flight on British Airways to Glasgow, Scotland.
On arrival a coach was arranged to send us to the ship. The same day the ship went for sea trials and back at sunset and dropped anchor off Greenock, Scotland for the night. In the morning the ship weigh anchor for further sea trials. Unfortunately, the anchor winch broke down and could not weigh anchor. It was then decided that we had to cut loose the anchor. This was where KD Rahmat lost her anchor.
(Lost and found its way to KD Sri Tawau – remember the mysterious anchor where nobody seems to know its origin !!!)
- We were around Greenock, Scotland for a month or two before sailing to Portsmouth where KD Rahmat was attached to CIC Royal Navy, Home Fleet. KD Rahmat spent most of her time between Portsmouth, Southampton and Portland undergoing trials.
There was an indication that further delays were expected. So, while waiting for the ship to be ready, some of the crew were sent to various shore establishments for training according to their branches. Seven of us were sent to HMS Mercury – a communication school for “Electronic Warfare”.
(KD Rahmat was the first RMN ship to be equipped with Electronic Warfare system – to detect incoming missiles – but not equipped with jamming countermeasure against incoming missiles).
- KD Rahmat was the first and only RMN ship armed with SAM type “SEACAT”.
- During her trials, she launched five SEACAT surface-to-air missiles but only one (missile number 5) hit the target. The other four went haywire and lost. All test-firing were done at Portland.
Test-firing of 4.5″ and 40/70mm guns including anti-submarine mortar mark 10 were also done there on other days. In one incident when the 4.5″ gun opened fire, the inner wooden door along the passageway towards Operation Room and COMCEN got torn off from its frame and flew across the passageway and smashed up. It was caused by the blast (pressure). Fortunately no one was injured.
The photo of KD Rahmat and the map are from the magazine printed in UK for our departure
- The plan was for the ship to run on diesel engine all the way to Mozambique, passing Cape of Good Hope without refueling.
- However at Luanda, Angola – our last port of call in West Africa – our guys detected some problems with the diesel engine.
Therefore, a contingency plan was made: if the ship was to run on turbine engine, she may not have enough fuel to sail around Cape of Good Hope to Mozambique. To get fuel in Simon’s Town (Simonstown), South Africa was out of the question because Malaysia had no diplomatic ties with South Africa. So, the next choice was to request fuel from Royal Navy ships that were stationed there, i.e. to rendezvous (R/V) KD Rahmat outside the 12 miles limit in international waters near Simon’s Town. As to whether the request was made (sent) or not, I don’t know. But I know KD Rahmat did not R/V with any RN ship and for nine days and nights crossed the Cape of Good Hope with her turbine engine all the way to Mozambique without refueling.
- KD Rahmat arrived at Mozambique at low fuel. Later, words were circulating among the crew that the Commanding Officer was reprimanded for putting the crew and ship in harm’s way.
- Stopped at Mozambique for a few days R &R as well as getting the diesel engine repaired.
- Next stop was Seychelles Island, Mahe, and R & R for a few days. While at Mahe, the steering gear motor (bearing) broke down.
- From Seychelles Island we sailed non-stop to Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Langka).
- In Colombo, we stopped for a few days R & R.
- From Colombo we sailed for Penang. ETA was sent to MINDEF and COMNAV West.
- While underway to Penang, KD Rahmat suffered a major breakdown and could not make headway – the ship was drifting for many hours midway between Colombo and Penang, and we were at the mercy of the Indian Ocean.
(UPBB berpendapat…..KD Rahmat tak dapat bergerak dan hanyut disebabkan kerosakan kotak gear CODOG (Combined Diesel Engine or Gas Turbine) yang telah menimbulkan banyak masalah sejak di UK lagi. Bila kotak gear jenis ini rosak, propeller tak dapat digerakkan walaupun enjin diesel atau turbine dalam keadaan baik).
An urgent SITREP was sent to COMNAV West and MINDEF. The Engineering Division (MEs) was working hard to rectify the fault. No panic button was sounded though. Commanding Officer and the rest of the crew were cool and ‘relaxed’ because we were already immune to the antics and problems of the ship.
- SITREP between KD Rahmat, COMNAV West and MINDEF was non-stop.
After many hours drifting, we were informed that the welcome-home ceremony by the Prime Minister/Defense Minister at Port Klang was canceled and KD Rahmat was ordered to proceed to the Malaysian Base Jetty (MBJ) at Woodlands.
Meanwhile, MINDEF instructed COMNAV West to immediately dispatch ships to our rescue. Two Coastal Minesweepers were dispatched to the Indian Ocean, and if necessary, to tow KD Rahmat back to home waters.
- However, luck was with KD Rahmat. The MEs managed to rectify the defects. We restarted the turbine engine and were on the way home albeit many hours behind schedule.
SITREP was immediately sent to MINDEF and COMNAV West of KD Rahmat’s ETA at Penang. Hours later, we received a reply from MINDEF ordering KD Rahmat to bypass Penang and proceed to Port Klang and make ETA for the welcoming ceremony.
We arrived at noon and had a day in hand for the ship’s company to clean ship, and be ready for the ceremony the next day.
KD Rahmat was dressed at colours for the ceremony.
To end this story on a happy note….the Commanding Officer, one Lieutenant Commander and three Lieutenants retired as Flag Officers.
As for me, I left the service after thirteen years as a poor but contented Leading Rating, and still unmarried… ha…ha..ha.
In retrospect, KD Rahmat was blessed with the best Commanding Officer, together with the best group of officers and fantastic crew – enjoyed working as a team like a band of brothers-in-arm…..
…..like brothers because four hours after arriving in Portsmouth, shore leave was granted and the first group of liberty men had a fight with some ‘mat salleh’ near a pub and six of our boys were arrested by Portsmouth’s Bobbies, and the rest cabut. Those who were caught were later charged in the magistrate court and each budak hitam was fined 13 pounds. (Exchange rate 1£ = $7+). Ship’s welfare fund was used to pay the fine and later potong gaji.
While in Portsmouth, Southampton and Portland many cases lawan ‘mat salleh’, but now budak hitam sudah pandai, nampak Bobbies…lari. If we don’t do that, for sure rugi another 13 pounds.
Commanding Officer brought back his beloved Mini Cooper, and many of us brought back our beloved red bicycles (used to send and collect signal at CIC’s COMCEN at colours and sunset).
(Note: A little background of the Commanding Officer – A Hero, who had earned his stripes when he was the CO of KD Sri Pahang by bagging a few KKOs during confrontation). The ship’s company had full confidence in him, and on whatever decision he makes.
On the departing note: now I can reformat my hard disk.
From the day her keel was laid in Glasgow until her demise in Lumut, KD Rahmat F24 (aka Fuckup 24 hours) had a string of history and misery.
- She was the first brand new primary combatant ship ordered by the RMN, and the first ship in South East Asia to be equipped with Surface to Air Missiles – SEACAT.
- Took more than six years to be delivered.
- On her journey home, and as a brand new ship, she had her share of setbacks in that on more than one occasion, her propulsion system broke down and was at the mercy of the weather.
- Out of 5 SEACAT missiles launched in the UK, only one scored a hit – a very poor return indeed.
- From the day she arrived in Malaysia – 19 December 1972 – until the day her launcher/director was discarded (1982), KD Rahmat managed to reluctantly launch two SEACAT missiles. Both missed the target.
The miseries of KD Rahmat are endless – from the day she was launched to the day she was decommissioned and later converted to a Floating Museum. Today, from afar she looks like a battered and battle-weary warship covered with Blood Stain, but going nearer it’s Rusts Stain… Oh, what a shame!
Come to think about it, TLDM could spare (KD) Rahmat from further miseries by giving her a proper sea burial. A buoy is then placed to mark her final resting place, and instill a tradition that…..
Every RMN ship that passes the buoy to salute in remembrance of the grand old lady – the first brand new guided missile frigate of the Royal Malaysian Navy that failed to live to her true potential.
From a grand name of a legendary warrior “Hang Jebat” to a gentle lady “Rahmat” and let it be known that – unlike her elder sister Hang Tuah F433 – the guns of KD Rahmat had never been fired in anger.
And yet, years later, despite her problems, she did perform the greatest service the RMN and country had ever known, where hundreds if not thousands owe their lives to this ship – KD Rahmat – befitting her name (God-Blessed).
No ships have ever done before, or since….therefore KD Rahmat should be in a greater part of RMN history.
Many years later, I was told KD Rahmat was sent for a major refit at one local shipyard and was later billed for Ringgit 70 million.
That’s more than twice the amount paid by the Government for the purchase of KD Rahmat a decade earlier!