Exercise MALZEA - A Malaysian Landing Ship Visits NZ
Exercise MALZEA is a regular bi-lateral exercise between our Navy and the Royal Malaysian Navy. Ex MALZEA 2008 was hosted by the RNZN during 14-17 April, to strengthen the relationship and enhance mutual co-operation and understanding between the two navies at the tactical level. TE KAHA was the host ship for this visit, supported by staff and facilities in PHILOMEL.
On 14 April, KD SRI INDERAPURA arrived at DNB after a passage from Port Hedland - and pursued by horrible weather. The bad weather finally caught up with them and throughout their stay in Auckland it didn’t just rain, it poured. Not the best welcome for a ship from the sunny climes of Malaysia.
Following a night at anchor in windy weather (and enduring rolling to 30º either side) SRI INDERAPURA berthed at DNB early on Monday morning – with all on board relieved to get alongside. Being an unusual foreign visitor, MAF and Customs were all over the ship, diligently doing their job to ensure that the Malaysians weren’t inadvertently bringing pests or bugs into NZ.
Once all of that was out of the way the CO, CAPT Ganesh Navaratnam, and 60 of his ship’s company were able to go ashore and receive a proper welcome to NZ at Te Taua Moana Marae. Our Maori Cultural Group performed the powhiri - once the Malaysians had got over their initial hesitation, they got into the spirit of things and they impressed us with a roaring rendition of one of their Malaysian Navy songs. The CO paid an Official Call on the CO of PHILOMEL and, as well, there was an Official Luncheon before the SPORTEX.
Normally during Ex MALZEA there is a sea phase, for warfare exercises and to improve interoperability. However, we could not do the sea phase this year because TE KAHA was in Selective Restricted Availability (SRA) so all activities had to be land-based. We have some pretty good facilities ashore and we were able to use these for exercises and some “sea time”.
- Damage Control Exercises at the Sea Safety Training Squadron. A group from the Malaysian ship visited the Sea Safety Training Squadron to see how we conduct damage control training and also to try out the facility with an exercise in the Flood Simulator.
- Officer of the Watch training in the Bridge Simulator. The OOW teams from both ships visited the Bridge Simulator. The TE KAHA team started off with a pilotage out of Auckland Harbour, and from there we went into OOW manoeuvres, with the Malaysians taking over for these. By this stage, with all the spectators crammed into the bridge (SRI INDERAPURA had about 30 Seaman Officers under training) the OOW manoeuvres had the added challenge of not being able to see out the bridge windows!
While in Auckland, SRI INDERAPURA hosted a reception onboard - guests were taken down to their massive vehicle deck where an abundant array of Malaysian food was waiting for them. Deciding what to eat was an adventure in itself - it was all very good (only one incredibly spicy dish ‘burnt the taste buds off’!) As we enjoyed all this food, the guests were entertained by talented groups from the Malaysian ship’s company who performed martial arts routines, dances and even a fashion parade show-casing the different national dress worn by Malaysians.
MALZEA 08 resulted in a strengthened relationship between the two navies while also serving to enhance the understanding between the RNZN and the RMN. Although we were unable to proceed to sea together, our excellent training facilities ashore allowed both parties to work together and share our different ways of doing things.
SRI INDERAPURA departed that Thursday with little fanfare, but once they slipped and proceeded, the sun came out! Hopefully the weather for their passage back to Malaysia was better than what the weather gods gave them on their way here!
KD* SRI INDERAPURA
[Pennant Number 1505]
- Type: Landing Ship Tank
- Complement: 14 Officers, 252 Sailors
- Dimensions: 172m (overall) x 21m x 7m
- Displacement: 8500 tonnes
- Machinery: 6 x diesels, 2 shafts, 20 knots
- Capacity: 400 troops, 500 tons of vehicles
- Armament: 1 x 20mm Vulcan Phalanx CIWS
SRI INDERAPURA was built in 1970-71 as the USS SPARTANBURG County and transferred to the RMN in 1995.
*KD = KAPAL DIRAJA (His Majesty's Ship)
TE KAHA challenged SRI INDERAPURA for the Malzea Cup. This huge silver cup is awarded for “sporting excellence” and has been a fixture of Exercise Malzea for each of the four years that it has been going. So far the RNZN has won it every time, but not without a hard-fought battle with the Malaysians who are not to be underestimated!
This year, the three games that would decide the winner were Volleyball, Soccer and Tug of War. In pouring rain the determined soccer teams met at Ngataringa Sports Ground, while at the same time, in the more pleasant environment of the Fleet Gym, the two volleyball teams were facing off.
- Volleyball: SRI INDERAPURA won 3-2
- Soccer: TE KAHA won 6-2
The outcome of the tournament rested on the tug o’ war. Obviously TE KAHA could have annihilated the smaller Malaysians in this game but it was only fair to institute a weight restriction. SRI INDERAPURA won the first round, then TE KAHA the second, and it was a nail-biting final round that TE KAHA won, once again retaining the Malzea Cup for the RNZN.
On completion of the actual games we all met up at Ngataringa for the presentation of the Cup and a friendly recount of the day’s activities over a halal BBQ.