Monday, May 9, 2011

First RMN(Royal Malaysian Navy) at Penang in 1938

RMN(Royal Malaysian Navy or TLDM)
Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) (Malay: Tentera Laut DiRaja Malaysia (TLDM)) is the naval arm of Malaysia's armed forces. In terms of personnel the RMN is one of the largest fleet in South East Asia and is also considered as one of the more technologically advanced navy in South East Asia.The role of the Royal Malaysian Navy is to safeguarding the Malaysia's coastline, her Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), her territorial waters and as well as defending Malaysia against all seaborne threats.

History of RMN

Before independence there was no independent navy in Malaya. But the Indian Navy and Royal Navy from Britain were managing the marine defense in the Strait Settlement and later Malay states. The Strait Settlement Naval Volunteer Reserve were formed in Singapore(1934) and Penang(1938). Since now Singapore (was under Strait Settlement) no longer in Malaysia, Penang was now the only state left with the history linked with founder of Malaysian Navy - The Strait Settlement Naval Volunteer Reserve.

Can we said the founding of Malaysian Navy is Malayan Naval Volunteer Reserve (MRNVR), the Penang Branch of Strait Settlement Naval Volunteer Reserve,in 1938 at Penang?........

The names of the early marine defenses establishment in Malaya
1786- British East Indian Company
1826 –Strait Settlement
1830-British Indian Navy- Her Majesty Indian Navy(1830) Bombay Marine(1863)/ Royal Indian Marine(1892)/ Royal Indian Navy (1934). The development of Indian Navy.
British Royal Navy, RN.
1934 - Straits Settlement Naval Volunteer Reserve
1936- Royal Navy Malay Section
1941- British Royal Navy Eastern Fleet(based at Singapore)
1942-1945 Imperial Japanese Navy
1945- British Royal Navy Eastern Fleet (from Singapore base)
1949- Malayan Naval Force (MNF)
1952- British Royal Malayan Navy, mainly for coastal petrol
1952- Malayan RNVR(Malayan Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve)
1957- Royal Malayan Navy
1963- Royal Malaysian Navy

1934- Straits Settlement Naval Volunteer Reserve
The Royal Malaysian Navy can trace its roots to the formation of the Straits Settlement Naval Volunteer Reserve (SSNVR) in Singapore on 27 April 1934 by the British colonial government in Singapore. The first Commanding Officer was Commander LW Johnson,MVO,RN. He was assisted by personnel from RN and Sergeant-Major Adnan Raji from SSVC(Strait Settlement Volunteer Corp)as drill instructor,at HMS PEIANDOK, Singapore in 1941. The SSNVR was formed to assist the Royal Navy in the defense of Singapore, upon which the defense of the Malay Peninsula was based. Another reason behind its formation were political developments in Asia, particularly a Japan that was increasingly assertive in Asia.

In 1938, the SSNVR was expanded with a branch in Penang. Initially known as SSNVR Penang, it was later designated as the Malayan Naval Volunteer Reserve (MRNVR) and received HMS Panji, transferred from Singapore, for training purposes. However by 1940 MRNVR had acquired two additional patrol boats, HMS Trang and HMS Jerong and five minesweepers.

MALAYAN ROYAL NAVY VOLUNTEER RESERVE Operated in Malayan and Straits Settlements waters, with a flotilla of local shipping vessels, some engaged in mine laying and mine-sweeping, utilising adapted civilian vessels of the Straits Steamship Co., and other commercial European and Chinese trading vessels; also launches, with RN, RNVR and MRNVR officers and crews. (Volunteers mixed races: Malaya 433: Singapore 150 officers, 500 ratings)

On 18 January 1935, the British Admiralty presented Singapore with an Acacia class sloop, HMS Laburnum, to serve as the Reserve's Headquarters and drill ship. It was berthed at the Telok Ayer Basin.

HMS Laburnum
HMS Laburnum (Pennant no. T49 in 1/18, later T48)(1915-1942),was a Royal Navy Acacia class sloop built by Charles Connell & Company, Scotstoun. She was laid down February 1915, launched 10 June 1915 and completed in August 1915. The Acacia class Fleet Sweeping Sloops were adapted for escort work, minesweeping and as decoy warships. She was in the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy from 11 March 1922 to 11 February 1935, where she exercised with cruisers, toured New Zealand ports, took part in ceremonial occasions, and went on annual Pacific Island cruises. This was in conjunction with her sister ship Veronica which was similar, but with small differences as they came from different commercial shipyards. She left Auckland on 1 February 1935 for Singapore, where she was paid off to become a drill and training ship for the Straits Settlement Naval Volunteer Reserve, commissioned on 18 Feb 1935. HMS Laburnum was sunk in February 1942, prior to the capitulation of Singapore at the beginning of the Pacific Second World War. She was Scuttled, 15 February 1942.

The smaller HMS Penyengat, a HDML(Harbour Defence Motor Launch) was brought in for seamanship and navigational training. By 1937, two motor launches HMS Panglima and HMS Pahlawan, equipped with Lewis guns, were commissioned for coastal patrols. These were built in by Thornycroft in Singapore specifically for the Straits Settlement RNVR(the volunteer reserve force of the Royal Navy (RN) in the United Kingdom). were outside the normal Royal Navy numbering system for HDMLs. Their names were HMS Penyengat,HMS Pahlawan, HMS Panglima, HMS Penghambat, HMS Pengail and HMS Panji(to Penang).

HMS Panglima
The first Panglima was a 23 metre motor launch built in Singapore in 1937. It was used for the training of naval officers and ratings in the Malayan Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (MRNVR). During World War II, the ship was involved in the evacuation of British and Australian troops from Johore, escort duties and patrol duties. However, in February 1942, while evacuating troops from Singapore, it was bombed and sunk. PANGLIMA - Left Singapore 12/2 unfinished launches. Scuttled Palembang River 15th Feb. LT Riches, M.R.N.V.R., HMS PANGLIMA was commanded by Lt H G G G Riches, also from SSRNVR.

HMS Pahlawan
Sub Lt Philip Dorian Cork(1909-1995) from SSRNVR,was the Commanding officer from 14.10.1941 to 12.1941; 08.1942 to 04.1946. PAHLAWAN - Sighted by TENGARROH 0315/14th Feb off No. 5 Buoy, Singapore S.C. No further information. See TENGARROH’s report

HMS Simbang (an ex-RAF torpedo recovery launch) was one of the MRNVR ships together with HMS Panglima and HMS Pelandok. It was transfer to MRNVR in 1948 for a replacement for a Malayan ship lost during the WW2, as announced by Admiralty on 15-7-1948(source: Malaya Bulletin dated 25th August 1948).

HMS Penghambat(Lost or destroyed to prevent falling into enemy hands at Singapore), PENGHAMBAT - scuttled in Telok Ayer Basin, Singapore, 15th Feb by order of Captain, A.V. Report of LT F.O.S. Man, M.R.N.V.R.

HMS PANJI - Sunk at Singapore by Japanese shellfire p.m. 13/2.

HMS Penyengat(Lost or destroyed to prevent falling into enemy hands at Singapore), and HMS Panglima were Scuttled during WW2. while the other three supposedly managed to escape to Burma to join the Burmese RNVR and survived the war.

The following were under SSRNVR, EASTERN FLEET(under the command of Flag C-in-C Eastern Fleet Vice Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton KCB, DSO, ashore at Singapore)as at Jan 1942:-

Motor Launches - CHENGTEH (Lt P R S O Spicer SSRNVR), MADRAS (no CO listed), O K (no CO listed), PAHLAWAN (Sub Lt P D Cork SSRNVR), PANGLIMA (Lt H G G G Riches SSRNVR), PENGAIL (Lt R J Draycott SSRNVR), PENGAWAL (Sub Lt L C Jago SSRNVR), PENGHAMBAT (Lt F D S Man SSRNVR), PENINGAT (no CO listed), ROHDA (Ty/Lt G D Inns RNVR), SYLVIA (Lt R J D Draycott SSRNVR), locations not known

Auxiliary Anti-Submarine Vessels - BAN HONG LIONG (Ty/Lt G M Christie RNR), BULAN (Ty/Lt W A Busby RNR), GIANG BEE (Act/Lt S K Rayner SSNVR), KEDAH (Cdr A W Sprott Rtd), KELANA (Ty/Lt C J Windsor RNVR), KUALA (Lt F H George, SSNVR), MATA HARI (Ty/Lt G A Brignall RNR), PING WO (Ty/Lt J Fant RNR), all at Singapore, SHU KWANG (Cdr A D Thomson DSC Rtd) at Trengganu, SHUN AN (Lt O R T Henman SSRNVR), SIANG WO (Ty/Lt Cdr A Woodley RNR), both at Singapore, TIEN KWANG (Act/Lt R W Heale SSRNVR) at Trengganu

Auxiliary minesweepers - CHANGTEH (Act/Lt P R S O Spicer SSRNVR), CIRCE (Ty/Lt A Brown RNR), GEMAS (Acting Sub Lt W E Quirke SSRNVR), all at Singapore, HUA TONG (Ty/Lt O G Jones RNR) at Penang, JERAK (Lt H C Butcher SSRNVR), JERANTUT (Ty/Lt J P Upton RNVR), both at Singapore, JERAM (Lt J H Evans RNVR) at Penang, KLIAS (Lt H N Smyth SSRNVR) at Singapore, MALACCA (Lt J W Morphett SSRNVR) at Penang, MEDUSA (Ty/P B Bruce RNR), RAHMAN (Act/Sub Lt D G Freeman SSRNVR), SCOTT HARLEY (Ty/Lt J Rennie RNR), all at Singapore, SIN AIK LEE (Lt J M Brander SSRNVR) at Penang, TAPAH (Cdr G E W W Bayly SSRNVR) at Singapore, TRANG (Lt H T Rigden RNVR) at Penang, WO KWANG (Ty/Lt J Robinson RNR) at Singapore

At Penang
Skid Towing Vessels - PRINCE, VULTURE, both at Penang (no COs listed),
Auxiliary minesweepers - HUA TONG (Ty/Lt O G Jones RNR) at Penang, JERAM (Lt J H Evans RNVR) at Penang,MALACCA (Lt J W Morphett SSRNVR) at Penang,SIN AIK LEE (Lt J M Brander SSRNVR) at Penang,TRANG (Lt H T Rigden RNVR) at Penang

(source: ROYAL NAVY SHIPS, January 1942 Part 4 of 4,OVERSEAS and COMMONWEALTH NAVIES, Part 4,

With the outbreak of the Second World War in Europe, the SSNVR increased the recruitment of mainly indigenous personnel into the force, to beef up local defenses as Royal Navy resources were required in Europe.

1936-1947 Royal Navy- Malay Section
Members of the SSNVR were called up to active duty, and the force was augmented by members of the Royal Navy Malay Section. This formed the basis of the navy in Malaya, called the Malay Navy, manned by indigenous Malay personnel (similarly, the Malays were recruited into the fledgling Malay Regiment formed in 1936). The Malay Navy had a strength of 400 men who received their training at HMS Pelandok from 1940-1942, the Royal Navy training establishment in Malaya(note: this training centre was destroyed during a Japanese air raid). Recruitment was increased and in 1941 at the outbreak of the war in Asia, the Malay Navy had a strength of 1450 men. Under the command of first commanding officer, Commander H. Vickers(or Lt Cdr Horace Vickers), the recruits were trained as telegraphists, seamen and signal visualizes before serving on board RN ships, mostly merchantmen hastily converted and armed for combat. These ships were part of 80 warships the RN had for the defense of Malaya against the Japanese, with the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battle cruiser HMS Repulse leading the fleet.
(Note: Battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battle cruiser HMS Repulse were sunk in South China Sea, off Kuantan. HMS Hwang Ho with Lt.-Commander H Vickers was sunk off Lingga and he and his crew were taken as prisoner of wars (POW's) to Pulau Bangka where he later died, and another report that VICKERS, Horace, Lieutenant Commander, Siang Wo, 13 February 1942, ship loss, killed, source:

HMMS Sri Melaka Ex HMS Malaya, HMS Pelandok Ex LCT 341
Originally named as HMS Pelandok but renamed two months later as HMS Malaya, she was one of two remaining LCT Mk 3 remaining in the Royal Navy service in 1947. The vessel was brought to Singapore during World War II and was then refurbished after the war for duties in Malayan waters. She initially served as a maintenance repair craft for the Royal Navy but was later converted to a training and accommodation ship before entering service into the Malayan Naval Force on 18 April 1949, to serve as a training ship like her namesake. As of January 1957, she was still listed as the maintenance repair craft HMMS Sri Melaka in the RMN vessels list.

Sembawang was home to a major British naval base, its construction of which began in 1928 and was completed in 1938. The base included dockyards, wharves and workshops, as well as supporting administrative, residential and commercial areas.

The WW2
The RN was however shocked on 2 December 1941 when these ships were sunk by Japanese warplanes, exposing the RN's fleet weakness against air attacks since there was no effective air cover available. Eleven days after the sinking of the capital ships,

1. HMS Lipis was sunk in Sarawak waters.
2. HMS Kudat sunk in Klang harbour,
3. HMS Surveyor was sunk in Pulau Besar and
4. HMS Kampar was sunk in the South China Sea.
5. HMS Matahari & (6) HMS Larut, were sunk by Japanese aircraft near Pulau Sabang while withdrawing from Malaya, on 13 January 1942.The survivors who swam to the island were later rescued by HMS Kedah, which was heading towards Java Island after evacuating Borneo waters.
7. HMS Pelandok - In Singapore, HMS Pelandok was initially bombed on 8 December 1941 but was later destroyed in January 1942 by Japanese air raids.
8. HMS Laburnum - All able-bodied survivors were then moved to HMS Laburnum to join members of the MRNVR there. However, HMS Laburnum herself was damaged by the Imperial Japanese Navy on 11 February 1942 and was scuttled four days later at the Fall of Singapore to avoid her capture by the Japanese.

One of the casualty was Ahmad Saidi(recorded as AHMAD, Bin S),Ordinary Seaman, SE/X 658 (Malayan RNVR), MPK(missing presumed killed in battle on 9 December 1941). He entered the navy in 1939. He was the younger brother of Lt Adnan Saidi. Lt Adnan bin Saidi, (1915 - 14 February 1942), was a Malayan soldier of the 1st Infantry Brigade which fought the Japanese in the Battle of Singapore. He is regarded by Malaysians and Singaporeans today as a hero for his actions on Bukit Chandu. His other brother Amarullah bin Saidi was also a member of the military, but survived the war.

Evacuation to Australia

By this time, all surviving ships were ordered to make a break from the harbour and sail for Australia via Indonesia, and for Colombo. Of the Malay seamen left behind in Singapore, 25 were killed by the Japanese in Tanjong Pagar after the surrender while the rest were sent as force labourers to Siam, Burma and Indonesia although some managed to escape to their kampongs.

Most of the ships escaping to Australia were sunk by the Japanese who were waiting in ambush in the south of Singapore.
1. HMS Vyner Brooke - was sunk by 9 Japanese Bombers on 14 February off Pulau Bangka with 20 Malay seamen dead.
2. HMS Hwang Ho - with Lt.-Commander Vickers was sunk off Lingga and he and his crew were taken as prisoner of wars (POW's) to Pulau Bangka where he later died.
3. HMS Siang Wo and 4. HMS Shu Kuang - were sunk on the same day but the survivors from the latter ship managed to reach Padang Sumatra where they were evacuated by the light cruiser HMS Dauntless to Chelicap Java. There, the Malay survivors joined those on board HMS Kedah that now headed towards Colombo as the way to Australia was no longer safe. Unfortunately after two days sailing. HMS Kedah had mechanical problems and was taken under tow by HMS Dauntless and arrived in Colombo in March 1942.

H.M.S. Kelantan, HMS Pangkor, HMS Pahang, HMS Perak, HMS Kepong, HMS Matang, and escort H.M.S. Medusa also safely arrived in Colombo in addition to H.M.S. Kedah. Of the 143 Malay Navy and MRNVR personnel now in Colombo, some were sent to East Africa to serve as intelligence operatives and others to India to prepare troops for the liberation of Malaya. Those remaining in Colombo were mainly deployed as telegraphists or harbour securitymen, while a number of selected personnel served with the British Military Force 136 and the USA's clandestine military unit OSS 404. These men later returned to Malaya with the liberation forces on September 1945.

Throughout the Second World War, the Malay Navy served with the Allied Forces in the Indian and Pacific theater of operations.

1945 - The WW2 ended
When the war ended with the Japanese Surrender in 1945, only 600 personnel of the Malay Navy reported for muster. Post war economic constraints saw the disbandment of the Malay Navy in 1947. In 1946, Commander (later Captain) HEH Nicholls, from RN, who was born in Pahang state, led the force from the disbandment of the Malay navy, through the MNF days, into RMN until his retirement just before Malaya independence. It was he who began to promote senior Malay Navy veterans to officer post in 1953 and who recruit young men as cadet for officer training in the UK from 1954.

1949 – The Malayan Naval Force(1949-1952)
The need for a permanent regular naval force was raised by the Government of Malaya, and after much preparatory work, the Government of Singapore announced that it was prepared to raise and maintain a naval force known as Malayan Naval Force. Ordinance No 40 of 1948 which received the assent of His Excellency Governor on 24-12-1948, authorizing the raising of Malayan Naval Force by, and at the expense of the Government of Singapore.

The Malay Navy was reactivated on 24 December 1948 at the outbreak of the Malayan Emergency, the Communist-inspired insurgent war against the British Colonial government. The Malayan Naval Force regulation was officially gazetted on 4 March 1949 by the colonial authorities, and was based at an ex-Royal Air Force radio base station in Woodlands, Singapore. The base was initially called the 'MNF Barracks' but later renamed HMS Malaya. The new naval force was further implemented by Ordinance No 13 of 28th April 1949, which made the Force subject to the Naval Discipline Act and made provision for its service in time of emergency.

The Malayan RNVR was reconstituted as a joint force comprising the Singapore Division and the Federation Division, by an Ordinance passed in Singapore in 1952.

Two of the Malayan Navy Force personnel were honored with BRITISH EMPIRE MEDAL (Military Division), Sergeant-Major Adnan Raji, Master-at-Arms & Syed Mohamad bin Syed Hussin, CSM, Singapore Vol. Corps. Adnan Raji was the first Malay promoted to Petty Officer.

The main mission of the Malayan Naval Force (MNF) was coastal patrol in order to stop the communist terrorists from receiving supplies from the sea. In addition, the Force was tasked with guarding the approaches to Singapore and other ports.

The MNF was firstly equipped with a River class frigate, HMS Test, which was used as a training ship.

At the end of 1949, MNF fleet had expanded to include the following:
1. Landing Craft Tank (LST) Malayan Ship HMS Pelandok
2. Landing Craft Gunnery
3. Habour Defence Motor Launches(HDML), now classified as Seaward Defence Motor Launches (SDML)
4. HMS Test, which was on loan from RN, to be returned to RN in Jan 1950

HDMLs(now reclassified as SDML) were later progressively transferred to the Malayan Naval Force from the RN's 200th Patrol Squadron in Singapore from 1949. These were RMN's first naval combatants, mainly for coastal patrol. The lists are as per the records below:-

Pennant Number (EX) Built Transferred Name Deactivated

SDML 3501 (ex HDML 1081) 8.10.41 1951 Sri Kedah 1959

SDML 3502 (ex HDML 1105) 3.43 1949 Sri Trengganu 1970

SDML 3505 (ex HDML 1333) 15.9.44 1958 Sri Pahang 1965

SDML 3506 (ex HDML 1334) 16.10.44 1950 Sri Negeri Sembilan 1966

SDML 3507 (ex HDML 1335) 2.1.1945 1950 Sri Perak 1966

SDML 3509 (ex HDML 1336) 30.9.44 1949 Sri Selangor 1961

SDML 3508 (ex HDML 1385) 8..43 1950 Sri Kelantan 1965

HMS Test Ex -HMIS Neza(1941-1955)
HMS Test was one of six River class frigates built by Hall, Russell & Company, Aberdeen. It was laid down on 15 Aug 1941, launched on 30 May 1942, and finally commissioned on 12 Oct 1942. The frigate was transferred in 1946 to the Royal Indian Navy as HMIS Neza (K239)for WW-II service, but was returned to the Royal Navy in Apr 1947. Being surplus to the Royal Navy's needs, she served as an accommodation ship in Singapore from 1948. However in 1949, she was loaned to the newly created Malayan Naval Force as a training frigate until hulked a year later. She finally scrapped on 25 Feb 1955.

1952- "Royal" Title - British Royal Malayan Navy 1952-1958
In August 1952, Queen Elizabeth II, bestowed the title "Royal Malayan Navy" to the Malayan Naval Force in recognition of the sterling service in action during the Malayan Emergency.

1955- The Pioneers
The Straits Times, 24 March 1954, Page 4, reported that RMN is sending 8 cadets to Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, UK, said Capt H. E. H. Nicholl. But 9 was sent.

They are the "golden boys" of 1955, the nine youngsters who were the pioneers of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

Rear-Admiral (now Laksamana Muda)(R) Datuk Thanabalasingam Karalasingam, Laksamana Pertama (R) Pavithran Krishnan Nettur, Kept (R) Cheah Leong Voon, Kept (R) Phang Kok Keng and Kept (R) Khoo Tee Chuan, Laksamana Pertama (R) Malcolm William Alvisse, Laksamana Pertama (R) Abdul Aziz Wahab, Capt Chitharanjan Kuttan, Vice-Admiral (now Laksamana Madya) (R) Datuk Mohamad Zain Mohamad Salleh. Although they were officially the pioneers, two others had joined the navy as officers before them.
Chia Cheng Lock joined in 1953 but retired prematurely in June 1962 as a lieutenant after differences with the administration. Charles Tong joined in January 1954 and retired as a commander at the age of 52 on May 12, 1988. "However, both Chia and Tong were enlisted under a different service scheme," Chia, 71, now lives in London, and Tong, 69, is in Penang.

At that time, the navy was only 512-man strong with some pre- war ships which saw valiant service in naval gunfire support operations up Malayan rivers during the 1948-1960 Emergency period." Khoo was the first commanding officer of the naval college KD Pelanduk in Lumut.

The navy was initially based in Woodlands, Singapore when Malaya was under British rule, before moving to Malaysian shores after Independence. Upon graduating from the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in England in 1959, the nine officers were asked to set up the naval branch of the Defence Ministry.

Khoo supervised KD Hang Tuah's voyage from Britain to the main naval base in Woodlands in 1964. He later oversaw the construction of the country's main naval base in Lumut in 1982. This resulted in the shifting of the KD Pelanduk naval college at Sembawang and the main training base KD Malaya at Woodlands to Lumut. Khoo had the distinction of having participated in battle during his 18-month operational sea training on board the aircraft carrier HMS Alision in the Mediterranean Sea, after being commissioned as an officer in 1958. "The carrier was called upon to assist the other British forces in the area after the Cypriots and Turks waged civil war in Cyprus. "I was in action for four months from May 1958 before our Government sought my release."

Thanabalasingam, perhaps holds a world record in being navy chief at 31 and receiving four promotions within a span of six months. At one time, he was also appointed acting Armed Forces chief when Jen Tunku Osman Jiwa was away attending the regional border committee meeting in Bangkok. In 1967, he was serving as resident naval officer in Tawau with the rank of lieutenant-commander. A month later, he took command of KD Hang Tuah with the rank of commander before being promoted to captain to be groomed as the country's first navy chief. "I spent a couple of months in Australia on a familiarisation tour and attended specialised command and staff courses, tailor made to lead a navy. "When I returned on Dec 1, that year, I was promoted to commodore as RMN chief, something that usually takes 35 years," said Thanabalasingam, who was promoted to Rear-Admiral in 1973. He retired at 40 in 1976 to make way for "younger blood".


1957 - Formation of new country - Malaysia
1957 – The RMN comprised of 31 officers (all British except 3), 98 senior sailors(28 British), and 500 junior sailors, they were based at Woodlands, Singapore(HMS Malaya). In addition, there were two divisions of MRNVR , one in Singapore with 183 officers and 529 sailors, and another in Malaya(which split into Penang & Kuala Lumpur) with 44 officers and 144 sailors. They operate varieties of petrol boats.

1958 - Royal Malayan Navy 1958-1963
Malaya, soon after attaining independence on 31 August 1957, had successfully negotiated with the British Government and had the British Royal Malayan Navy transferred to the independent Federation of Malaya on 12 July 1958. With the hoisting of the Federation naval ensign - the White Ensign modified by the substitution of the Union Flag with the Federation flag in the canton - the RMN was thus made responsible for Malaya's maritime self defense.

1959-The trying years with RAN(Royal Australian Navy)
The Malayan Government initially showed some reluctance to take responsibility for the naval defense of the country, perceiving that it did not need a navy. The British withheld defence assistance to change this mindset, and the Royal Malayan Navy (RMN) was established in 1958. Unfortunately, the British, initially, did not supply the right kind of personnel to bring this new navy up to effective levels of organizational, technical or operational performance. In 1959, the Malayans invited Australia to assist, offering the RAN the position of chief of their navy, having previously agreed that Australia and New Zealand should be ‘attached’ to the agreement allowing British forces to be stationed in Malaya.

In 1958 a small Naval Branch was established at the Ministry of Defence under the first Commander of the Royal Malayan Navy, Commodore ED Norman, DSO, DSC, RN This Branch was expanded during 1960s.

It was not an opportune moment for the RAN to loan experienced officers to another navy, as the RAN had a major re-equipment programme beginning to deliver new ships and equipment and there was an associated need for significant retraining. Nevertheless, the new commander, Captain W. J. (Bill) Dovers and staff officers to support him were found and, within a few weeks of being told of their unusual new posting, by January 1960 the new officers were at the helm of the RMN, and many positions of importance and influence were occupied by Australian officers and sailors. During the term of the subsequent RAN ‘Adviser’ to the RMN Chief of Naval Staff, Malayan ties with the RAN continued to strengthen, with students accepted for training in RAN specialist schools. The RAN was not alone in supporting the RMN during its difficult first years. British interest and assistance remained strong, and countries like India and New Zealand were also involved in training and maintenance roles.

From then on it became Malayan owned and administered. The designation "Royal" in Royal Malayan Navy was now in reference to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who became the Supreme Commander of the Malaysian Armed Forces. All ships, facilities, and personnel serving in the Royal Malayan Navy were inherited by the Malayan government.
The new force shouldered the responsibility with only an operational and training base at HMMS Malaya and a small coastal fleet of one LCT, two Ham class minesweepers, one coastal minelayer, and seven MLs (the ex-RN 200th Patrol Squadron) on transfer from the Royal Navy.

KD Mutiara was the first ship officially awarded the title "Kapal Diraja' or KD on 20 May 1961. Amongst her other firsts were she was the first ship specifically built for the RMN and she was also the first locally built vessel, wholly built with local wood by local artisans.

1963 Royal Malaysian Navy(1963 until now)
On 16 September 1963 the naval force was renamed the Royal Malaysian Navy, following the formation of Malaysia. The RMN was gradually strengthened after the formation of Malaysia. 18 Keris class patrol boats were ordered from Vosper, and these formed the mainstay of the navy for years to come. These 103 ft (31 m) boats were driven by Maybach diesels and capable of 27 knots (50 km/h). The Keris patrol boats were confined to coastal patrols and had short endurance. An offensive capability was acquired with the purchase of four Vosper Brave class fast attack craft. The Perkasa class Fast Patrol Boats were built for the RMN by Vosper Thorneycroft in 1967, powered by three Rolls Royce Marine Proteus gas turbines as the main power plant with two diesel auxiliary engines for cruising and manoeuvring. These were armed with four 21-inch (53 cm) torpedoes, one Bofors 40 mm gun forward, and one 20 mm cannon aft. They had a maximum speed of 54 knots (100 km/h) and was driven by triple propellers.

HMS Loch Insh/KD Hang Tuah(K433)

The Royal Navy transferred the Loch class frigate HMS Loch Insh to the RMN in 1964 and renamed KD (Kapal di-Raja, "His Majesty's Ship") Hang Tuah. In 1965, during the Indonesian Confrontation, Hang Tuah took over guardship duties off Tawau from HMS Yarra. The ship served the RMN until decommissioned in the 1977 and scrapped.

HMAS Yarra (F07/DE 45)1957-1985, named for the Yarra River, was a River class destroyer escort of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Yarra was laid down by the Williamstown Naval Dockyard at Melbourne, Victoria on 9 April 1957,and commissioned into the RAN on 27 July 1961. Yarra operated during the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation; during a three-week patrol in June 1965, the ship fired on an Indonesian incursion force near Sabah. The ship's service was later recognised with the battle honour "Malaysia 1964-66". She was sold for scrap on 22 November 1985.

KD Hang Tuah, ex HMS Loch Insh
HMS Loch Insh (K433/F433) 1944-1977 was a Loch-class frigate of the Royal Navy, named after Loch Insh in Scotland. She was built by Henry Robb of Leith yard, of Henry Robb Ltd. HMS Loch Insh was launched on 10 May 1944. During her service in WW2, she had sunk U286, and U307, both German Submarine, in the Barents Sea north of Murmansk, Russia. At the end of World War II she was decommissioned, but reactivated in 1950 and served, mostly in the Persian Gulf, until 1962. She was placed on the Disposal List, and sold to the Royal Malaysian Navy in 1963. After a very extensive refit at Portsmouth, which included changes to the superstructure and the provision of helicopter landing facilities, on 2 October 1964 the ship was commissioned into the Royal Malaysian Navy and renamed KD Hang Tuah (F433). She sailed for Malaysia on 12 November 1964, and served as the flagship of the Royal Malaysian Navy until 1971, when she was used as a training ship until withdrawn from service six years later. She was scrapped in 1977). Visitor and tourist can visit and explore this nostalgic ship at Bandar Hilir, Melaka or at the Lumut Navy base.

Malaysianisation of the Navy
Following the end of Indonesian Confrontation in 1966 Tunku Abdul Rahman and his colleagues decided to Malaysianise the top posts in the navy and air force. They initially offered these posts to two senior Malaysian army generals, who declined for two main reasons. First they felt that they were not professionally qualified and second because they did not want to jeopardise their own careers in the army.
Tunku and his colleagues then decided that they would select two officers, one from the navy and one from the air force, and appoint them chiefs of their respective services. They were fully aware of Rear Admiral Datuk K. Thanabalasingam's age but decided, nevertheless, to appoint him and take the risk. This exercise created history not only because Malaysians for the first time were appointed to these two top posts but also because of his age—he was 31 years old and a bachelor.
Under Thanabalasingam and with Tunku Abdul Rahman's foresight and will, they were responsible for initiating the gradual transformation of the navy from a coastal navy (brown water force) to an ocean-going navy (blue water navy).

The first three RMN chief were Australian from Royal Australian Navy(RAN), who had contributed to the strong foundation of RMN, and established relationship between RAN and RMN, where training were given by them. Rear Admiral (Rtd) Tan Sri Dato' Seri K. Thanabalasingam(1967-1976) was the first Malaysian to be the Chief of young RMN,and holding the record of not only the first, but also the only one from Indian community.

List of the Chief of Royal Malaysian Navy

1. Commodore ED Norman, DSO, DSC, RN (1957-1960)
2. Captain W. J. (Bill) Dovers, (1960-1962)
2. Captain A. M. Synnot(1962-1965),
3. Commodore A.N. Dollard Ran(1965 - 1967)
4. Chief of Navy - Rear Admiral (Rtd) Tan Sri Dato' Seri K. Thanabalasingam(1967-1976)
5. Vice Admiral Dato' Mohd Zain bin Mohd Salleh(1976 - 1986)

Rear Admiral (Rtd) Tan Sri Dato' Seri K. Thanabalasingam - The first local Chief

Rear Admiral (Rtd) Tan Sri Dato' Seri K. Thanabalasingam is the third chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy and the first Malaysian to be appointed to the post.
Born in 1936,December 0, 1936 (age 75). of Ceylonese or Sri Lankan Tamil descent, Thanabalasingam joined the British Royal Malayan Navy, which was then under British control, in May 1955. He was sent to the Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) in Dartmouth, England, from which he graduated in early 1958.
He then decided to join the newly established Malayan Navy, which was fully Malayan owned and administered in late 1958. On his return to Malaya, he was appointed the first Naval Cadet Training Officer at the then Federation Military College at Port Dickson (currently the Royal Military College, Kuala Lumpur in Sungai Besi) from January 1, 1959.

By then, newly independent Malaya under Tunku Abdul Rahman's leadership had successfully negotiated with the British Government to transfer the British Royal Malayan Navy to the Malayan Government on July 1, 1958.

The British Royal Malayan Navy and all its assets (the ships, the bases and jetties and personnel) were merged with the existing Malayan Navy and from then on it became Malayan owned and administered. This new entity was named Royal Malayan Navy, and the designation “Royal” was a reference to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

After the trials and tribulations of the Indonesian Confrontation settled down, especially after the signing of the agreement between newly formed Malaysia and Indonesia in 1966, Tunku Abdul Rahman and his colleagues decided to Malaysianize the top posts in the navy and air force. They initially offered these posts to two senior Malaysian army generals, who declined for two main reasons. Firstly they felt that they were not professionally qualified and secondly because they did not want to jeopardise their own careers in the army.

Tunku and his cabinet then decided that they would select two officers, one from the navy and one from the air force, and appoint them chiefs of the respective services. They were fully aware of Thanabalasingam's age but decided, nevertheless, to appoint him and take the risk. This exercise created history not only because Malaysians for the first time were appointed to these two top posts but also because of his age—he was 31 years old and a bachelor. Tan Sri Dato Sulaiman Sujak was the first Malaysian in RMAF, who was the Chief of RMAF from 1 Nov 1967 - 31 Dec 1976.

Under Thanabalasingam and with Tunku Abdul Rahman's foresight, the Royal Malaysian Navy was gradually transformed from a coastal navy (brown water force) to an ocean-going navy (blue water navy).

At the end of 1976, he retired from the naval service as Rear Admiral at the age of 40. He ventured subsequently into private business. He currently lives in Kuala Lumpur.

Recommended articles/book/websites:

1.The Royal Australian Navy in Malaya, Malaysia and Singapore, 1948-1971, by Dr Ian Pfennigwerth
2.Loyal leader earned respect,
4. RAAF Official website
5. HMS LOCH INSH (K 433) - Loch-class Frigate;
7. What happened to the HMS Laburnum? , of HMS Laburnum)
8. Straits Settlements Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (SSRNVR) Officers, 1939-1945;
9.Harbour Defence Motor Launch,


  1. Very well written article about the MRNVR, RMNVR and the RMN. But surprisingly no one has yet posted any comment to this historical write-up on the Navy. I surely hope people has not lost interest in the Navy, sea careers and the importance of the Armed Forces in peace time and at war.

  2. Hi
    Interesting article about volunteer reserves and the history of MRNVR/RMNVR.
    However, I think you may have missed out one of the warships HMS Malaya - can't remember exactly whether its a cruiser or a battleship. It seems the Malay Sultans of Peninsular Malaya paid for the costs of building it for the RN.

  3. Very interesting history of MRNVR/RMNVR. However, I think you may missed out one of the warships "HMS Malaya" built and financed by the Sultans of Malaya as a gift to the RN.
    Also more than 100 sailors from the RNVR of both Malaya and Singapore divisions lost their lives during WWII - as an ex-member of MRNVR S'pore division I knew of several men & officer who got the MBE & BEM after attending the Victory parade in the UK.

  4. I know about HMS Malaya. As for MRNVR/RMNVR, I have read some articles, but still need to read more...