KOTA KINABALU - Welcome Home CB204, We never leave our brothers behind.
The banner said it all as it greeted five crewmen of the Royal Malaysian Navy's CB204 upon their arrival at the Sepanggar naval base here.
The wives, children and parents of the crewmen, who were adrift at sea for two days, rushed to hug and kiss them.
Earlier, RMN's Region II commander Rear Admiral Datuk Rosland Omar was all smiles when the CB204 combat vessel arrived at the naval base jetty at 12.50pm. It was towed back by the KD Ganas fast attack vessel.
Emerging from the vessel, the five tired crewmen, led by Lt Azri Bakar, waved and smiled upon seeing their families.
The others were Ince Evin, Nor Azuan Ariffin, Sulhajji Daah and Mohd Azhry Maani. There were 11 on board the CB204.
Two others - Christopher Mani, who suffered a stomach ailment, and Steven Hudson Miso, who sustained an electrical shock - were airlifted back to base a day earlier.
Lt Azri said they encountered rough seas after sailing past Pulau Mengalum on Sunday.
Under escort of KD Paus, the CB204 craft departed the Sepanggar base at about 5am on the same day, en route to the Gugusan Semarang Peninjau.
It was Lt Azri's first deployment after assuming command of the CB204 on Sept 18.
He added that amid the rough seas and heavy rain, they lost radio contact with the KD Paus.
The situation worsened when an engine malfunctioned. The CB204 remained adrift in rough seas and the crewmen kept pumping water out from the vessel.
They eventually managed to contact a merchant vessel via radio and requested that it relayed their coordinates to a navy vessel.
KD Ganas managed to contact them at 3pm on Monday.
Lt Azri's wife, Lt Comm Fazilah Makun, had been confident her husband and the crew would return safely. "They are experienced sailors and we know it is an unsinkable craft.
"Even then, seeing my husband is a relief and a joy," said Lt Comm Fazilah, who is eight months' pregnant with their first child.
Rosland said a board of inquiry would be convened soon to probe the incident. "It should take about two weeks," he said.