RECALLING the early history of the Royal Malaysian Navy (TLDM), which will be 77 years old this 27 April, and which dated back to 1934 is very interesting indeed. The security situation in Malaya had compelled the British Government to establish the Straits Settlements Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (SSRNVR). The local Malays were recruited to be in this volunteer reserve team to secure the defence of Malayan waters.
The first commanding officer was Commander L.A.W. Johson MVO, RN, assisted by two trainers from the Royal Navy. Sergeant Major Adnan bin Raji from the Straits Settlement Corps (SSVC) was seconded as the marching coach with the rank of Chief Petty Officer. A total of 25 officers and 150 staff of other ranks of the SSRNVR were placed in the Singapore Volunteers Corps headquarters and were later transferred to the HMAS LABURNUM in Telok Ayer Basin in 1936.
In 1939, the name of the unit was changed to The Malayan Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (MRNVR). A new MRNVR branch was established in October 1938, in Gelugor, Penang. On 4 September 1939, MRNVR members were deployed by the British government to work full-time to defend the country ensuing the war that had broken out in Europe.
Realising the need to equip the sea defence in facing external threats, as well as responding to the insistence from the local citizens for the priority to be given to the security monitoring and safeguard of the country's territorial waters, The Royal Navy Malay Section was established in September 1939. This unit, known as the Malay Section or The Malay Navy was stationed at HMS Pelandok in the British Royal Navy Base in Singapore.
The Royal Malay Navy was stationed at a base near the King George V Dry Dock, commissioned with the name HMS Pelandok. Lieutenant Commander H. Vickers RN, Commanding Officer of the Royal Navy was appointed as the first Royal Navy Malay Section Commanding Officer. HMS Pelandok which became the Malay Navy base and training centre received intakes in batches of 20 to 30 recruits between 1939 and 1941. In February 1942, the total number enlisted was 1400. They served as sailors, signal officers, chefs and electricians. The increase in strength was in preparation for the Second World War.
On 11 February 1942, HMS Pelandok was destroyed by a Japanese Air Force attack. The surviving crews were combined with the MRNVR members at the HMS LABURNUM, based in Telok Ayer Basin, Singapore. On 26 February 1946, after the war ended, all local volunteer forces including MRNVR were dissolved. The Malay Navy team meanwhile was dissolved on 27 April 1947 due to economic recession.
On 21 January 1948 an agreement was sealed between the Malaya and Singapore Governments to establish a naval team. Its establishment was the result of a defence cooperation between the Malay Peninsula and Singapore, coming into effect as of 1 February 1948. On 24 December 1948, the Malaya Naval Force Ordinance 1948 was passed by the Singapore Legislative Council, followed by the Malaya Navy Regulation Bulletin 1949 on 4 March 1949.
The Malayan Naval Force (MNF) was commanded by Captain H.E.H Nichollas. On 8 April 1949, the British Government donated a landing craft tank which was later commissioned as HMS PELANDOK. The Malayan Naval Force team was awarded the Royal status by Queen Elizabeth II on 23 May 1952 for its excellent services. Ensuing the award, the team became known as the Royal Malayan Navy. A full conversion ceremony was held on 29 August 1952, with a white flag representing the Royal Malayan Navy flown for the first time replacing the blue Royal Navy flag (British Royal Navy)..
On 1 July 1958, the British Government in Singapore handed over the Royal Malayan Navy to the government of the Federation of Malaya. This historic moment was officially held at the Royal Malayan Naval Base, Woodlands Singapore on 12 July 1958. An agreement for the handover of assets in the form of ships and base was signed by the then Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman on behalf of the Federation of Malaya, with the Chief Minister, Mr Lim Yew Hock on behalf of the Singapore government. Effective from that date, all ships and Royal Malayan Naval bases fly a new flag and carry a new forename KD, which means 'Kapal Diraja' (The Royal Ship).'.
Following the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, the name of the Royal Malayan Navy was changed to the Royal Malaysian Navy (TLDM). On 12 March 1966, His Majesty, the then Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Ismail Nasiruddin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Zainal Abidin consented to grant the Royal Banner to the navy as a token of appreciation and respect for the duties, roles and sacrifices of this force to the country.
TLDM, which is a part of the Malaysian Armed Forces plays a vital role in providing naval support that complements the forces in maintaining the national sovereignty. The main roles of TLDM is to protect the local fishermen and prevent smuggling and to ensure that the territorial waters including the Exclusive Economic Zone are patrolled and defended at all times. Currently, TLDM is equipped with sophisticated modern warships and is on par with the current maritime warfare technological developments. Among its modern armament are missiles, long-range artillery and anti-submarine weaponry.
On 3 September 2009, history was made by the country with the arrival of the country's first submarine, Kapal Diraja Tunku Abdul Rahman (KD TAR), at the National Hydrographic Centre, Pulau Indah. The entry of a submarine into the TLDM Fleet asset inventory, not only increases the fleet capability, it also complements our three-dimensional warfare capabilities; below the surface, on the surface and anti-airborne warfare.
KD TAR is the first of two national submarines equipped with torpedoes and long-distance anti-surface ship missiles, shot from below the water surface. Scorpene, which is a conventional combat submarine built in Cherbourg, France by DCNS and a submarine manufacturing company, Navantia is able to patrol the national waters at a depth of 100 to 200 meters. On 15 July 2010, the country's second submarine KD Tun Razak arrived at the TLDM base in Teluk Sepanggar, Sabah, the country's submarine base.KD Tun Razak is manned by 32 navy personnel who had undergone submarine training in France for four years.
Indeed, the prosperity and well-being we enjoy until this day have been contributed in part by the Royal Malaysian Navy force. The achievement shown by TLDM either locally or at the international arena is something to be proud of. This achievement has put our navy armada as a prestigious marine force on par with the navy armada of the Western countries. In line tandem with its motto 'Sedia Berkorban' ("Ready To Sacrifice"), TLDM will surely continue to excel as a world-class navy.