Sea-basing is vital, says minister

KUALA LUMPUR - Sea-basing, a naval capability that provides commanders the ability to conduct selected functions and tasks at sea without relying on infrastructure ashore, will enable strategic deployment of assets in tightening the security off Sabah waters, said Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

The Defence Minister said the concept, which was mooted by the Royal Malaysian Navy, would enable security forces to give prompt aid in any emergency.

He said this in a statement here yesterday following reports that quoted Royal Malaysian Navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar on Thursday as calling for the beefing up of assets and logistics under the sea-basing concept to strengthen security off Sabah waters.

The concept involves the placement of naval vessels and personnel, including the creation of a small naval base offshore, that could intercept unknown ships or intruders far from the country's coastlines, he said.

Hishammuddin said he would forward the sea-basing proposal to the Cabinet as soon as possible in order to heighten the security of Sabah waters.

He said high-speed interceptor boats could be placed in the middle of the sea along with main platforms, such as the navy's auxiliary ships Bunga Mas 5 and Bunga Mas 6.

Both ships had been used to escort MISC Bhd vessels through the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

He added that among the facilities that would be provided by the main platforms were the resupply of fuel and water to the interceptors without going back to base and accommodation and food for the crew of the interceptors.

"The main platforms can also provide medical aid and function as operations centres in the frontline.

"The Bunga MAS 6 is currently part of the search and rescue effort for MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean.

"Both ships can be anchored and they are able to be at sea for long periods," he said.

Hishammuddin added that the sea-basing system could also use other platforms, including those belonging to oil and gas companies.

"The system will enable a more strategic deployment of military assets. It will also create a better state of readiness for any situation," he added.