Outgoing MMEA director-general disappointment over OPV handover delay

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) director-general Admiral Datuk Mohd Zubil Mat Som, who will be going on mandatory retirement on March 19, has expressed his disappointment with the delay in the handing over of the Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV).

Met by reporters at a ceremony held in conjunction with his retirement at Dataran Pahlawan Negara here today (March 16), Mohd Zubil hopes that the first OPV (OPV1) can be handed over by this year at least so that it can be used for security operations in national waters.

He said according to the initial agreement, OPV1 was promised to be handed over this month, but now he understands that the handover will only take place in July.

"According to the initial agreement, two OPVs should have been handed over this year, namely OPV1 to be handed over in March but March is about to end, and there is no progress yet. OPV2 is still a question mark," he said.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail was previously reported to have said that OPV 1 and 2 will be completed and handed over to MMEA this year according to the set period which is in March and October respectively.

Last October, the 83m-long and 13.7m-wide OPV1, with the ability to conduct remote surveillance up to the Exclusive Economic Zone as well as areas beyond the reach of small vessels, was launched.

"I don't want people to assume that I am commenting (on the issue) just because I am about to retire, but up to my retirement, not a single vessel has been handed over. I have championed the handover from my days of service,” Mohd Zubil said.

Mohd Zubil said OPV was the best ship for MMEA because it is able to navigate rough sea conditions and be at sea for 28 days without having to refuel.

"We will wait for this July... if there is a ship naming ceremony, maybe I will be invited and if there is no (invitation), then the ship is not ready yet,” he said. - Bernama

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