KOTA KINABALU: The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) Submarine Training Centre (STC) at the Sepanggar Navy base is one of the best Scorpene submarine training centres in the world.
RMN chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar said the Submarine Training Centre here has the capability to provide basic training right up to the highest level of submarine expertise.
“This shows that locals can now master the art of underwater warfare which involves modern technology,” he said after presenting “Dolphin” badges to 30 locally trained submariners.
Abdul Aziz said that the STC is now equipped with two simulators, namely, SIMDIVE (Diving Simulator) and SIMTAC (Tactical Simulator).
“It is also equipped with a Safety Conditioning Facilities (SCF) building, which has a submarine escape training tower as well as two simulators to prepare submariners for any eventuality in case of fire or flooding.
“By providing such facilities, the highest command of the RMN had shown its commitment to make our submarine force ‘world class’,” he said, adding that local submariners have been trained since 2010.
Abdul Aziz also said that by being able to train submariners locally, it would reduce the burden on the government to provide funds.
“It costs one million Euros per submariner if they were trained abroad, but if we train them locally, we can save at least 50 percent the cost,” he said, adding that previously, submariners were trained in Turkey, Pakistan, Australia, Sweden and Germany, while intensive training was conducted in France.
He said that submarine training is divided into few stages, namely, an academic course, submarine foundation course, a simulation course and an on-the-job (OTJ) training, where the entire training duration would be about two years.
“It is also better for us to train submariners locally because they will be trained directly for the Scorpene submarine,” he said.
Abdul Aziz thanked the French Navy and NAVFCO, the naval branch of the Defense Conseil International, for training its submariners prior to the existence of local training.
“The benchmark on the capability of our submarine force is based on the French Navy. In order to be qualified as submariners, they need to have logged at least 1,000 hours in a submarine, and this certainly dispels rumours that our submarine cannot dive.
“If it cannot dive, then it is impossible for our submariners to have clocked in 1,000 hours of voyage,” he said.
He also said that the RMN had received requests from navies of neighboring countries in the region to have their men trained as submariners by the RMN STC.
“All I can say is that, at the moment, we want to focus on training our own submariners first. However, the fact that we received such requests is a recognition of our submarine training capability,” he said.
Abdul Aziz said that each submarine requires one and a half crew strength to operate it.
“One crew strength is equivalent to 35 men. We have two submarines, therefore we need three crews to operate both submarines. Currently, we have about 156 submariners, and we are quite comfortable with the numbers, but we hope to have five crews for our submarine force,” Abdul Aziz said, adding that the force needs to always have backup because if one of the crew is unable to man the submarine, they need to have a replacement to execute the role that was left vacant.
“Everyone has their role and must be present on board for the submarine to operate,” he added.
Abdul Aziz said that since January 1, the government had improved the incentive for submarine service by increasing its rate from 35 to 40 percent.
“The incentive also includes the introduction of a sailing allowance. This means that submariners are entitled to an allowance for each voyage they chart,” he added.
He said the improvement of the incentive would attract more personnel to become a submariner, in addition to encouraging current submariners to retain their professional skills as submariners.
“The new incentive structure also provides a better description of the risks faced by submariners in operating a submarine and by providing a better incentive, it shows the government’s appreciation of submariners of the RMN,” he added.
Also present during the ceremony were RMN Armada chief Vice Admiral Dato’ Mohamad Roslan Mohamad Ramli, Submarine Force Commander Rear Admiral Abdul Rahman Ayob, Deputy Submarine Force Commander, First Admiral Zulhelmy Ithnain and senior RMN officers.