| Danial Norjidi |
THE Royal Brunei Navy (RBN) welcomed the newest addition to its fleet yesterday – the Kapal Diraja Brunei (KDB) DARUTTAQWA.
The KDB DARUTTAQWA is a new patrol vessel of DARUSSALAM Class, which was commissioned by His Royal Highness Prince General Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and General of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), in a ceremony held at the Muara Naval Base.
The 80-metre long, 13-metre wide vessel with a top speed of 20 knots, is equipped with a marine light 27mm gun. It is the fourth ship of the DARUSSALAM Class, after the KDB DARUSSALAM, KDB DARULEHSAN and KDB DARULAMAN.
The patrol vessel was launched and given the name “DARUTTAQWA” on August 22 last year by His Royal Highness Lieutenant Prince ‘Abdul Mateen at the Fr Lurssen Werft (FLW) shipyard in Bremen, Germany.
The KDB DARUTTAQWA arrived at the Muara Naval Base on August 30 after a 46-day maiden voyage from Bremen, which included stops at various ports, namely the Port of Valencia in Spain, the Jeddah Islamic Port in Saudi Arabia, the Port of Mumbai in India and the Changi Naval Base in Singapore.
After the commissioning ceremony yesterday, the ship’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel (L) Khairil bin Haji Abdul Rahman spoke to the Bulletin about KDB DARUTTAQWA, which has a crew of 53 personnel, including 12 officers. It is a slight variant from other ships of its class, featuring a smaller gun and no missiles, but it can be configured to have these features.
In addition, it can be set up to perform humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as it has space to carry food and medical equipment.
“The role is still the same – to do maritime surveillance and support other agencies,” the Lieutenant Colonel said. “We have a platform behind, with which we can land aircraft.”
Speaking on the ship’s training capabilities, he said, “For training purposes, what we have compared to the other ships is many more beds. Hence we can have more personnel who can train on board.
“Aside from that, we have a room that is now being used for dining, but we can configure it into a classroom for training purposes,” he added.
One of the ship’s notable features is a Rigid Inflatable Craft (RIC), which has its own deck.
He explained that the RIC can carry up to 10 people and can be used for boarding of other vessels.
“Within a matter of two minutes we can launch the RIC and then it can go up to 45 to 47 knots,” he said. “It will go with our boarding team just to investigate or search any suspected vessels.”
Adding on, he said, “We feel honoured to have His Royal Highness on board to launch our ship because once it is commissioned, it is fully operational.”
“We have a good team on board,” he continued. “We have worked together from the day we started the training back from Bremen in February until we sailed the ship in July. The cohesion of the crew is good.”
Meanwhile, the Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Major General Dato Paduka Seri Mohd Tawih bin Abdullah said in the programme book, “By adding this modern and technologically advanced asset, the Royal Brunei Navy (RBN) will be able to further strengthen its capabilities and continually strive to develop in line with the plans and guidance of the Defence White Paper.
“The RBAF is proud because with this commissioning ceremony of the KDB DARUTTAQWA, the RBN has displayed another achievement in the modernisation of its primary assets, in line with the requirement and needs in suppressing incidents and activities that may threaten national interests.
“It is hoped that this asset can be a catalyst towards a strong barrier and defence,” he added. “It will also be able to enhance service and cooperation with maritime enforcement and other agencies, as well as a platform for further enhancing defence diplomacy.”
First Admiral Dato Seri Pahlawan Abdul Aziz bin Haji Mohd Tamit, the Commander of the Royal Brunei Navy, also gave his remarks in the programme book, saying that the arrival of the KDB DARUTTAQWA in addition to the existing DARUSSALAM Class vessels as well as the four IJHTIHAD vessels further enhance the Royal Brunei Armed Forces’ capability in carrying out its duties, especially in protecting the sovereignty and maritime welfare of Brunei.