KESEDARAN KEBAKARAN BOT DAN KAPAL MILIK PERSENDIRIAN PERLU DIPERTINGKATKAN

M.Y Pochea yang berusia 45 tahun sedang terbakar di perairan Pulau Langkawi, Kedah. Kapal layar mewah milik persendirian tersebut yang mempunyai panjang keseluruhan 75.15 meter telah alami kerosakan teruk dalam insiden tersebut.

Pada 5 Februari 2021, sebuah bot nelayan Kelas C telah musnah dalam satu kebakaran yang berlaku 16.6 batu nautika ke Barat Daya Sungai Besar, Selangor. Dalam kejadian jam 10.20 pagi tersebut, seorang awak-awak warganegara Myanmar telah melecur di 90 peratus bahagian badan manakala dua orang lagi awak-awak warga Myanmar dan tekongnya yang merupakan warganegara tempatan dapat diselamatkan Maritim Malaysia.

Pada 18 Februari 2021, sebuah kapal layar mewah, M.Y Pochea, telah terbakar di perairan Pulau Langkawi. Kesemua enam orang yang berada diatas kapal layar tersebut telah berjaya diselamatkan oleh Maritim Malaysia. Kapal layar tersebut telah dibina pada tahun 1976 dan berusia 45 tahun.

Kedua-dua insiden tersebut adalah di antara insiden-insiden kebakaran yang melibatkan bot-bot dan kapal-kapal di perairan Malaysia. Insiden yang paling masyhur ialah penenggelaman kapal mewah M.V Sun Vista 60 batu nautika ke arah Barat Daya Pulau Pinang pada 21 Mei 1999. setelah tidak dapat mengawal kebakaran yang berlaku. Kesemua lebih 1,100 orang anak kapal dan penumpang kapal sepanjang 214 meter tersebut terselamat.

Kapal tersebut berusia 36 tahun semasa kejadian berlaku.

Kebakaran di atas sebuah vesel (terminologi yang akan saya gunakan sepanjang penulisan saya untuk merujuk kepada semua jenis bot dan kapal) adalah sesuatu yang amat ditakuti. Api dapat merebak dengan begitu cepat sekali tanpa mengira sama ada vesel tersebut diperbuat daripada kayu mahupun besi.

Perolakan haba (heat convection) yang dihasilkan oleh kebakaran tersebut sama ada akan membakar terus kayu yang menjadi dinding di antara ruang dalam kapal dengan air laut, ataupun menyebabkan pengaliran haba (heat conduction) melalui besi badan kapal yang akan menyebabkan pembakaran (combustion) bahan mudah terbakar.

Kepanasan melampau akan menyebabkan peledingan badan serta bulkheads kapal. Ini menyebabkan penutupan pintu kedap air untuk membantu memendamkan kebakaran (fire suppression) menjadi mustahil.

Bagi kebakaran yang melibatkan vesel jenis kaca gentian (fibreglass), ianya lebih cenderung untuk mengeluarkan asap toksik yang berbahaya kepada anak-anak kapal.

APA YANG LAZIMNYA MENYEBABKAN KEBAKARAN DI ATAS VESEL?

Kebakaran di laut bukanlah sesuatu yang menghairankan. Namun, penyebabnya adalah hampir sama bagi kesemua kes, melainkan dalam kes-kes yang melibatkan jenayah khianat. Bagi kes bot nelayan di perairan pantai negeri Selangor di atas, kita tidak tahu usia sebenar bot tersebut. Namun, pembinaannya lebih bersifat tradisional. Kita tidak tahu juga sama ada kontraktor pendawaian yang digunakan adalah berdaftar. Kadangkala, bot nelayan dan lain-lain vesel juga ada jalankan pengubahsuaian pendawaian sama ada kerana menggantikan yang lama ataupun menambah peralatan yang tidak datang dengan keadaan asal vesel.

Litar arus terus (DC circuit), sambungan yang longgar ke bateri, suis serta pendawaian bateri yang lama dan berkarat, saluran bahanapi adalah di antara punca-punca berlakunya kebakaran vesel.

Selain itu, sebarang pendawaian yang sudah berusia melebihi 25 tahun seharusnya diganti dengan yang baharu semasa vesel menjalani major survey. Anggota kejuruteraan sesebuah kapal harus jadikan amalan memeriksa setiap pendawaian dan saluran bahanapi untuk rekahan salutan atau pelunturan warna salutan pendawaian dan saluran bahanapi sebagai satu kebiasaan.

Pemeriksaan teliti juga harus dilakukan ke atas kesemua pengapit saluran minyak supaya tidak ada yang terlalu longgar sehingga menyebabkan tumpahan bahanapi, dan tidak dipasang terlalu ketat sehingga ‘menggigit’ saluran bahanapi dan boleh menyebabkan kebocoran saluran bahanapi. Sebarang kebocoran boleh juga mengakibatkan pembentukan wasap petrol atau disel yang boleh mengakibatkan kebakaran atau letupan sekiranya bilge blower tidak dihidupkan atau tidak berfungsi dengan baik.

Satu lagi sebab utama kebakaran vesel yang lazim ialah tahap pengemasan dalam kapal adalah lemah (poor housekeeping). Kebakaran-kebakaran yang melibatkan kapal-kapal layar mewah jutaan Dollar seperti M.Y Barbie, M.Y The One, M.Y Lalibela, M.Y Pamela IV kesemua musnah dalam kebakaran yang disebabkan oleh tahap pengemasan yang lemah. Apa yang menyebabkan kebakaran M.Y Pochea pada 18 Februari 2021 belum kita ketahui. Tetapi adalah tidak menghairankan sekiranya puncanya adalah salah satu atau lebih sebab yang telah dibincangkan di atas.

KOMPETENSI ANAK KAPAL

Kalau kita amati video temuramah anak kapal M.Y Pochea yang disiarkan dalam laman Facebook Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia, kita dapat lihat reaksi anak-anak kapal yang agak kelam-kabut semasa berlakunya insiden tersebut. Semasa menonton video tersebut, saya rasakan kemungkinan mereka tidak diberi latihan yang sempurna yang memenuhi kehendak undang-undang maritim.

Sebagai contoh, anak-anak kapal terpaksa menggunakan baju T untuk dilambai untuk menarik perhatian kapal ronda Maritim Malaysia yang lalu berhampiran. Tiada disebut mengenai sistem pemendaman dan pemadaman api dihidupkan. Tiada juga disebut penggunaan radio VHF yang mempunyai Digital Selective Calling (DSC) untuk berhubung pihak Maritim Malaysia atau Pasukan Gerakan Marin PDRM untuk memohon bantuan. Tiada langsung disebut mengenai penggunaan suar merah untuk menarik perhatian vesel-vesel yang berdekatan dengannya.

M.Y Pochea adalah merupakan sebuah kapal layar mewah yang boleh membawa seramai 12 orang penumpang dan 13 orang anak kapal yang panjangnya melebihi 75 meter dan beratnya 530 tan metrik. Sekiranya ianya digunakan untuk sewaan komersil, maka ianya perlu patuhi banyak peraturan-peraturan maritim seperti COLREGS, Passenger Yacht Code, ITC, Ballast Water Management, BUNKERS, Konvensyen Buruh Maritim 2006, SOLAS Bahagian I, II, III, V, XI, STCW dan lain-lain. Sekiranya ianya tidak digunakan untuk tujuan komersil, ia masih perlu mematuhi kesemua di atas kecuali STCW, Konvensyen Buruh Maritim 2006, SOLAS Bahagian II, III, dan XI.

Ini bermakna pemilik M.Y Pochea wajib menentukan anak-anak kapal adalah terlatih, biasa dan mahir mengendalikan sistem dan kecemasan kebakaran dan lain-lain termasuk penggunaan alat radio untuk berhubung dengan mana-mana agensi yang boleh membantu. Sama ada latihan tersebut dilakukan secara berkala seperti yang dikehendaki oleh peraturan-peraturan dan undang-undang maritim atau tidak, hanya mereka yang terbabit boleh menjawab persoalan tersebut.

Insiden kebakaran yang berlaku keatas M.Y Pochea adalah sesuatu yang sangat menyedihkan. Anak-anak kapal tersebut agak bernasib baik dapat diselamatkan tanpa mengalami sebarang kecederaan yang boleh mengancam nyawa. Yang menyedihkan juga ialah tindakan-tindakan yang diambil oleh mereka langsung tidak mencerminkan bahawa mereka telah dilatih dengan secukupnya untuk mengendalikan kapal layar tersebut dengan selamat sama ada dalam pengoperasian biasa mahupun dalam keadaan kecemasan. Sekiranya latihan-latihan termasuk pengendalian kecemasan terus dipandang enteng oleh pemilik-pemilik, maka suatu hari nanti ianya akan memberi bahaya kepada lain-lain vesel di laut.

Dan sudah tentu anak-anak kapal tersebut bernasib baik kerana hadirnya Maritim Malaysia yang cekap memberi bantuan memadamkan kebakaran sambil menyelamatkan ketujuh-tujuh mereka.

Defence: LIMA Must Be Industry-Driven

Condensation forms over the leading edges of an RMAF F/A-18D Hornet as it makes a high-speed maneuver

The 14th edition of the biennial Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition ended last week leaving many in awe of the performances and displays in both the aerospace and maritime segments.  Kudos to the EN Projects Sdn Bhd as the main organiser and also to the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Transport as well as the supporting government agencies.

The 14th edition of LIMA saw an increase in the number of exhibitors compared to LIMA ’15.  555 exhibitors participated this time compared to 512 in 2015. While 39, 689 trade visitors visited LIMA ’15, 40,280 trade visitors were at LIMA ’17, surpassing the target of 40,000 trade visitors. 139,478 public visitors were at LIMA ’15.  The target for this edition was 140,000 public visitors. Surprisingly, 236,689 public visitors visited this year’s LIMA – 104,557 visitors on the first open day, and 132,132 on the final day making a total of 276,969 visitors to LIMA ’17.

It must have been a boon to the Langkawi economy to have that increase in the number of visitors over five days and definitely helpful to the small traders especially in the Padang Matsirat, Pantai Cenang, Pantai Tengah, Kedawang, and Kuah areas.

A special commendation should be given to the Chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force and Chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy for lending their support in driving the industries as well as foreign armed forces’ participation in all the activities during LIMA 17.

QUALITY OF EXHIBITORS

His Royal Highness The Sultan of Selangor visiting one of the exhibition booths

From my personal observation, since the 13th edition of LIMA there has been an inreasing number of unrelated government agencies and companies exhibiting at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre such as the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA), the Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) and a Private Limited printing company!

Unless there is a masterplan to annouce Langkawi as an aviation and maritime hub, I do not see the relevancy in having LADA at the aviation exhibition hall.  MARA would be relevant if it provides assistances for students to study maritime or aeronautical-related studies or for local small and medium enterpreneurs to participate in the local maritime and aviation industry which is rather limited.

What did not happen was for local universities to showcase their research projects in order to secure fundings from local and foreign aviation and maritime giants.  LIMA would be a perfect platform for local universities to showcase their research in both the industries.

Local shipbuilders, other than the local giants in the defence sector, were largely missing from the exhibition.  Local shipbuilders are mainly into constructing oil and gas and transportation of cargo, crude and gas products should have showcased their capabilities at LIMA.  This is where the Ministry of Transport could help in getting the participation of more civilian-transport applications providers to exhibit at LIMA.

Kudos should also be given to both the Minister of Defence as well as the Minister for Youth and Sports in driving the National Transformation 2050 (TN50) programmes for the youth at LIMA.  LIMA should also be about providing avenues for the youth to participate in the aviation and maritime industries.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin and YB Khairy Jamaluddin at the Defence Dialogue and Press Conference TN50 during LIMA ’17

LESSONS FROM THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY

The Malaysian Oil and Gas industry has its biennial Asian Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Engineering (OGA) Exhibition and is into its 16th edition this year.  Unlike LIMA, OGA is fully industry-driven.  The event is supported by the British-Malaysian Chamber of Commerce, Malaysian Gas Association, Malaysian Offshore Contractors Association, Malaysia Petroleum Resources Corporation, Offshore Support Vessels Owners Association and the Malaysia Oil and Gas Services Council.

LIMA is co-organised by EN Projects Sdn Bhd and the Ministry of Defence, supported by five ministries, the Malaysian Armed Forces, Royal Malaysian Police, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Fire and Rescue Services Department, and the Royal Malaysian Customs.  I am surprised that none of the industry councils and associations play the supporting role instead of just collaborating role.

We have so many defence and security contractors yet they all have to rely on the ministries and agencies above to put together an event for them to participate.  Why does the government have to do the hard selling on their behalf?  Isn’t it time, after 14 editions, for the industry players themselves to come together and become the co-organisers or event supporters?

Lined up at sea off Tanjung Malai were military vessels or vessels chartered by the military. I did not see a single vessel from the Malaysia Shipowners’ Association, or civilian and military boatbuilders showcasing their products at sea.

LIMA could be bigger than just a military/security party.  Airlines did not send their aircraft this time around.  At LIMA ’15 there was an Airbus A320-200 belonging to Air Asia.  This was absent at LIMA ’17.  Imagine a daily flypast of aircraft – perhaps an arrowhead formation with an Airbus A380 followed by an Airbus A330 and A320 flanked  by Boeing 737-800s and Boeing 737-900s, followed by a smaller diamond four formation of ATR-72s.

The above will never happen unless industry players take the lead in supporting LIMA.

OPPORTUNITIES

For the Royal Malaysian Air Force, opportunities to replace the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29N comes in the form of the Dassault Rafale.  LIMA ’17 saw Dassault Aviation pulling no punches when promoting the Rafale for Malaysia.  LIMA ’17 was followed by a visit by French President Francoise Hollande who also put the sale of the Dassault Rafale to Malaysia on the agenda.  Although Malaysia had said that it was not time to purchase the Rafale, it is important to note that the F/A-18D Hornets will be 30 years old in 10 years while the Sukhoi Su-30MKM will be in its 20th year of service in the RMAF.

The other interesting Euro-Canard contender is the Saab JAS-39 Gripen.  The Royal Thai Air Force’s Gripen participated in the aerobatic display in the first four days.  Touted as a more affordable but equally potent as the Dassault Rafale, the Gripen’s cost would prove to be an attractive candidate to replace the MiG-29N.

At LIMA ’15, Saab had offered the Malaysian government a lease deal for 16 JAS-39C/D Gripens.

However, the tragedy involving a RTAF JAS-39 Gripen that killed its pilot earlier this year still plays in everyone’s mind.  The Gripen was performing in Hatyai for the Thai Children’s Day.  Footage of the accident shows the Gripen starting a slow aileron roll; once inverted, the aircraft fails to complete the maneuver, stops rolling and takes a nosedive crashing near the airfield’s runway.

There has been ten accidents involving the Gripen with nine hull losses and one fatality.  At least two of the accidents have been attributed to Flight Control Software issues.  The incident in Hatyai is still being investigated.

Of course there is also the option to upgrade the surviving 16 MiG-29Ns as a stop-gap mesure. At LIMA ’15, Malaysia’s Aerospace Technology Systems Corporation offered upgrades that would only be a fraction of the cost of purchasing new MRCAs.

The upgraded aircraft will be called the MiG-29NM and will include a Zhuk-ME FGM-229 slotted phased-array fire control radar that will provide an air-to-ground capability not available on the baseline aircraft, which are optimized for the air defense role.

The avionics system incorporates a night vision goggle-compatible glass cockpit, with two color multifunction displays and hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) functionality.

Weapons systems and pylons will be upgraded, making the MiG-29NM capable of carrying the full range of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons available to Malaysia’s Su-30s.

The Klimov RD-33 Series 3 engines of the MiG-29N will remain, but a conformal fuel tank added to the spine of the aircraft, together with an extra ventral tank, will increase operational range by 30 percent.

Malaysia, however, had declined this offer deemed expensive.

It would be interesting to note that other than the Indian Air Force, the Myanmar Air Force had also recently upgraded its MiG-29s at RAC MiG facilities near Moscow.  This upgrade, said to be cheaper than what was initially offered to Malaysia, is now being offered to both Malaysia and Bangladesh which operates eight MiG-29B and is also seeking upgrades.

It would be interesting to see what the government’s decision on the MiG-29Ns would be.

Opportunities such as this is what local companies should get involved with. The aerospace industry that had taken off with the introduction of LIMA still remains status quo.  Indonesia has gone on commercial production with its aircraft lines while we are stil struggling to even produce components that would be accepted internationally.

MOVING FORWARD

LIMA is here to stay.  Other than the Singapore Air Show, this is one that is looked at in this region.  While the Singapore Air Show is huge, LIMA is just of the right size for mission-specific companies to participate in.  It is just unfortunate that the industry is not helping out to drive the show instead of relying on the government’s goodwill.

Hopefully EN Projects Sdn Bhd together with the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Transport would flog the industry players to play a much bigger role in helping to drive LIMA into the exhibition every global industry player would look forward to.