THE jaw-dropping sight of a jet-black submarine crossing paths with ferries turned a humdrum Monday morning commute into an exciting experience for a few hundred ferry passengers.
The 77.42m-long submarine sent ferry commuters into a frenzy to photograph the warship and broadcast her presence on social media.
The HMAS Sheean from Australia is here for the crewmen’s holiday.
It rolled into Butterworth’s deep-water wharf where tugboats nudged it alongside at 11.30am.
Since the news hit The Star Online yesterday, readers have called asking if they could go to the wharf for a closer look. The wharf, however, is off-limits to the public.
Submarine Commander Jason Cupples told The Star that the crew was in Penang for a visit.
The Collins-class submarine is in Malaysian waters for a joint exercise with Scorpène-class submarine KD Tunku Abdul Rahman in Kota Kinabalu on Oct 12 and 13.
“We have 60 crew members who want to experience the local cultures and food.
“The submarine will dock here until Friday,” Cupples said.
Penang Port Sdn Bhd senior general manager (corporate support division) Md Derick Basir, who greeted the disembarking submariners, said it was the first time a submarine had docked in Penang.
Retiree Ahmad Ishak, 57, heard about the submarine’s arrival and brought his five-year-old grandson on a ferry ride just to get a closer view of it.
“I have never seen a submarine before, although the Royal Malaysian Navy has two.
“It’s truly an eye-opening and fun experience to see a foreign submarine here,” he said when met on the ferry at the Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal yesterday.
Student Koh Zhi Zhang, 14, from SKM Hwa Lian in Temerloh, Pahang, said it was also his first time seeing a submarine.
“This is my first time in Penang and I’m so lucky to see it,” he said.
In a statement, the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) said the Australian crew was also planning a courtesy call to the naval office in Penang.
HMAS Sheean will return to Fleet Base West, Australia, once the exercise concludes, the RMN spokesperson added.
The vessel is armed with guided surface-to-air missiles, sub-surface guided torpedoes and mines, and has a surface range of 11,500 nautical miles and a dived range of 400 nautical miles.
HMAS Sheean, with a displacement of 3,051 tonnes (surfaced), was laid down in 1994 and launched in 1999.