The final countdown on the fate of KD Seri Inderapura has began. She is to be sunk and be made a artificial reef for the breeding of maritime life, preempted the Defence Minister. The final decision will however depend on the outcome of the investigation that will be carried out by the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN).
I know for certain that a decision to sink or not to sink a ship is not an easy decision to make. One has to understand the culture of the navy where sailors attachment to the ship is like a mother to a toddler and vice versa. The attachment is mutual, and sailors like to talk fondly about their time serving a ship long after they have left the navy.
The first ship Captain of KD Seri Inderapura was Laskma Noor Azman (Retired) who had captained the ship on many voyages overseas to provide logistical provisions and material support to Malaysian troops serving in Bosnia, Somalia and even sending Vietnamese refugees back to Vietnam.
Upon knowing that KD Seri Inderaputra had caught fire, I quickly called Laksma Noor Azman to hear what he has to say of the incident. From the brief conversation, I sense that he wasn't in the mood to talk about the ship, and I fully understood the reason for it. I suppose he was overcome by emotion to see his ship that has been a part of his life for several years laid in flames, and will no longer be part of his history in the navy.
I then called on some other navy friends to find out what could be the cause of the fire, and why was it that the navy took an unusually long time to stop the fire, despite the ship being at harbour.
Having listened to a long lecture on ship safety and some naval terms that I am not quite familiar with, my navy friend's final reasoning is simply that the crew is not well trained for fire fighting on board, and he believes that there was an element of negligence on the part of somebody. He too could not understand why was the ship allowed to be on fire for several hours, when it was at harbour where the fire fighting gears could easily be made available. Or was there a complete wash-out of all the fire fighting gears and equipments? It is a different matter altogether if the ship is on fire while sailing in the open sea.
I do not know whether heads will roll at the end of the investigation; but I do know that the navy do not compromise on discipline and negligence.
And to quote the final words of Laksma Noor Azman to me when he said that, “for God sake, sinking a ship for the purpose of an artificial reef would be the last thing that a navy would want to do”
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION