Splice the mainbrace

Royal Malaysian Navy ‘dolphins’

Today is a very special remembrance day for some of the senior members of the elite submarine fraternity. It is the birthday  of  one of the first three Royal Malaysian Navy personnel pioneer group to be trained and certified as submariners and obtained their ‘dolphins’ in 1993 from the Royal Australian Navy.

Mustaffa Bin Dapat, an aeronautical engineering graduate who enrolled as Cadet Officer in Royal Malaysian Navy, volunteered and then selected to undergo submarine training in Australia. It is a very tough service for any seaman to specialize. It requires unsurpassed dedication, commitment and to certain extend, passion. The highly demanding job require them to work and live in conditions unlike other seamen.


The submarine Project Team was formed in 2003 and the 20 officers and men assumed their project team office in Arsenal, Cherboug, France later that year. In March 2005, the first batch of submariners arrived in Brest, France. In all, 156 officers and men received their extensive training and exposure with NAVFCO in Brest. The first Perdana Class Scorpene submarine KD Tunku Abdul Rahman arrived at Malaysian shores in September 2009. KD Tun Razak arrived ten months later.

It has gone a long way then. Today, the submarine fraternity grew to 120 members. The Royal Malaysian Navy incepted a Submarine Force HQ and it is based in TLDM Naval Base, Sepanggar Bay, Sabah. Two Perdana Class Scorpene submarines KD Tunku Abdul Rahman and KD Tun Razak are the pride of the RMN and Malaysian Armed Forces strategic assets.

Last weekend, the Chief of Navy Admiral Tan Sri Abd Aziz Ja’afar brought the media for a visit to the naval base and the highlight of the two day visit was to the Submarine Force HQ. Most of the senior officers in the submarine force were either Mustaffa’s contemporaries or immediate subordinates.

One of them wrote a tribute for Mustaffa, to remember him on his birthday:

Mustaffa b. Dapat, 21 Oct 1964 -28 Aug 2004


Mustaffa Dapat was born to a former British Army employee, Dapat b. Selamat on the 21st Oct 1964. He was initially intended to be named as ‘Ahmad Suhardi b. Dapat’. However, his aunt somehow managed to change his name to ‘Mustaffa’ instead. He grew up in Kampung Stulang Baru, Johor Bahru, Johor and attended Larkin School. His father by then became a Postman at Bukit Panjang Post Office, Bukit Panjang, Singapore while his mother ran a food stall in Larkin.

Mus attended MARA Junior Science College, Kuantan, Pahang (1977-1981). He went to Oklahoma to study engineering but was transferred to Ohio University in Columbus, Ohio where he earned a bachelor in aeronautical engineering in 1986.

Mus returned to Malaysia during the recession. After his mother passed away in 1987 to stomach ulcer, Mustaffa join in the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) as a Cadet Officer. Having consistently performed to the highest standard, he was commissioned in July 1989 and awarded with the Sword of Honour as best cadet.

Despite being commissioned as Seaman officer (Executive Branch of the navy) Mus secretly harbour a desire to be an aeronautical engineer of which he was trained for. Unfortunately at that time, the Navy did not yet have the bureaucratic flexibility to accommodate such need. In 1992, while still a Sub. Lt, Mus was sent to HMAS PEGUIN, the Royal Australian Navy submarine school located in Sydney. There he earned his ‘Dolphins’ in 1993, the first RMN officer to be qualified as submariner, along with Lt. Abdul Rahman Ayob and Petty Officer Suhaimi following a training stint in an RAN OBERON Class submarine.

While working as staff officers in Navy HR, Mus again express his interest in switching his specialization from Regular Commission General Duty – Executive Branch to Professional Duty Engineer. And again as bureaucracy would have it, this came to nought. Besides, he was doing very well as a seaman that the higher ups thought why not groom him as a seaman officer and in times he’ll be a flag officer. Indeed there are more than a few in the Admiralty who would attest to the fact that Mus is a CN material. Judging by the way things are today, I am confident that Mus will be well on his way to become a First Admiral had he stayed in the navy.

As fate would have it Mus decided with a heavy heart no doubt, to leave the navy. Well not completely though. While he did joined ATSC as Project Manager for maintenance of the RMAF MIG 29N fighter jets, and another stint at Rajawali Aerospace, he was still doing a soul searching, uncertain of his true calling. When he was offered to join Perimekar to help oversee the implementation of RMN Submarine projects from the commercial side, boy did he jump on the opportunity. For me the cycle is complete. Mus, you are a submariner after all! Alas, I wonder how different things would have been if you realised this part of yourself much earlier.

Mus went to Cherbourg, France to assume his new role in December 2002. While I’ve yet to be there, we did correspond with each other from time to time. And through this I was assured that the project is proceeding well and the RMN will have ‘One Hell of a Beast’.

In late July 2004, Mustaffa fell ill due to viral fever and was admitted to the Louis Pasteur Hospital, Cherbourg in early August. Five days later he was transferred to another hospital in Caen where he was warded for the next two and half weeks. Unfortunately, things turn from bad to worse, while undergoing his treatment, he was diagnosed with a rare allergy known in the medical circle as Steven Johnson syndrome’. Mus went into coma and finally succumb to this illness just before six a.m. on Saturday, 28 August 2004. He was barely fourty. I guess there is truth in the saying ‘whom the god love dies young’.

During his lifetime, Mus was a person of surpassing integrity; his quiet demeanor belies a brilliant yet humble, determined man. His dedication to honour and duty was exemplary. Above all he was a patriot. This somewhat larger than life character won him many loyal friends and admirer. While he was my super senior in MRSM, he joined the navy just two years before I did. While still under training in the officer school, KD PELANDUK Mus mentored me on all those basic things that are necessary in the making of an officer and a gentleman. Back then, somehow I always felt really small and short of his expectation. Later on, being a drafting officer in the naval officer career planning department, he pulled me while on patrol in the ‘far flung’ corners of east Malaysia to be a staff officer in HQ alongside him. Here our desk is literally inches from each other. Fresh from his submarine training tour, he told me that he wanted me to join the submarine service. I duly complied. After a rigorous selection process, I was selected and sent to Australia in 1995, and here is where it all began for me.

When Mus left the service in 1997, I somewhat felt that he wanted to tell me something but refrained himself from doing so. Yet he asked me to assist him with his documentation process till the end. When he depart from the HQ, I was the last person to see him out and he got those well deserve final salute from me. Years later in one of our conversation Mus finally told me what he wanted to say before but he did not because he thought it was too early. He told me he is confident that I have what it takes and he wanted me to ensure that RMN submarine force will be a force to be reckoned with, one that though he no longer part of, but can still be proud of. Well, Mus, I’ve tried my best and rest assured that our submarine force is highly regarded amongst those that matter. As for that ‘Hell of a Beast’; today, together they stand as the mainstay of this country conventional deterrence capability – a sentinel of our sea for which we gladly give our live away.

Mus, I hope you are at peace while on eternal patrol.


The Trade

They bear, in place of classic names,
No letters nor numbers on their skin.
They play their grisly blindfold games
In little boxes made of tin.
That is the custom of “The Trade.”

Few prize-courts sit upon their claims.
They never tow their targets in.
They follow certain secret aim.
Down under, far from strife or din.
When they are ready to begin,
No flag is flown, no fuss is made
No more than the shearing of a pin.
That is the custom of “The Trade.”

The Cruiser’s thunderous screw proclaims
Her coming out and going in
But for her, only whiffs of paraffin
Or creamy rings that fizz and fade
Show where the ‘one-eyed death’ has been.
That is the custom of “The Trade.”

Their feats, their fortunes and their fames
Hidden from their nearest kin,
No eager public backs or blames,
No journal prints the yarn they spin,
When they return from run or raid.
Unheard they work, unseen they win.
That is the custom of “The Trade.”

– Adapted from the original works of Rudyard Kipling

Cdr. Baharuddin Wan Mohd Nor, RMN

Former Commander, Perdana Class Submarine Sqdn and CO KD Tun Razak

21 Oct 2012



In commemorating the anniversary of the demise of our very dear friend/ brother Mustaffa Dapat.

After 8 years, our fond memories of him has not dwindled.  Looking back at the time when we were onboard HMAS OVENS doing our Part III Training for Submarine Officer Training Qualification Course, I couldn’t have asked for a better colleague to go through the course with.

Indeed the course was not an easy one and having Arwah through high and low of the course made everything less painful and many times even enjoyable.  His intelligence and dilligence in work and caring nature in friendship will forever be the way he stays in our minds and hearts.

Al Fatihah.

First Adm. Abdul Rahman Ayob, RMN

Commnander, Submarine Force HQ, Royal Malaysian Navy 

KD Tun Razak, berthed at Awana Porto Malai jetty from Monday 5 Dec till Friday 9 Dec 2011 for LIMA 2011

“Splice the mainbrace” is a naval term to celebrate after doing dangerous tasks, such as splicing the main brace (tying up the main mast after it broke, usually in a storm or during battle). By no means these submariners do dangerous work manning Malaysian Armed Forces’ most strategic assets.

We should all celebrate these extraordinary men. They have proven themselves able to undertake the process to be world class submariners and they are up to task for the most demanding job in the navy. They have made RMN a world class navy and proven that Malaysians could be qualified and do what men and women in superpower navies are qualified to do.

Former Commander of Submarine Force Rear Adm Dato’ Roaland Omar and Chief of Navy Adm Tan Sri Aziz Jaafar, in front of KD Tunku Abdul Rahman @ RMN Submarine Force HQ, Sepanggar Bay Naval Base

In short, they are the ‘soapbox’ that made Malaysians as tall as other people. Malaysians have now the submarine capability of navies of nations which once colonized this land.

Today, we remember Mustaffa Dapat. His contribution, even though was short, is immense. Mustaffa is one of those who helped in having the ‘soapbox’. May Allah bless him.

Published in: on October 21, 2012 at 18:00  Comments (13)  

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13 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. An excellent piece, a much needed break from politically related stuff.

    Let us toast to these man of His Majesty service, for they are indeed the unsung hero, a guardian of our peace. I believe these are no ordinary man as it takes a lot to be able to live and fight from within the belly of a steel beast. They deserve our respect.

    A quote from Churchill;

    “Of all the branches of men in the forces there is none which shows more devotion and faces grimmer perils than the submariners.”

    “We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.”

    • Sorry to put a political view a bit –

      I want to see Malaysia have more subs. We only have two now, don’t we? And Singapore, a “little red dot” (said a former Indonesian President), has two, too?

      Malaysia has a tremendously long sea line compared to Singapore. We must have many more subs than Singapore.

  2. BigDog,

    The submarine force is very much a necessary strategic unit in the navy for a maritime nation such as ours. 80% of our trade is dependent on the maritime sealanes and the interrupted merchant shipping that ply these waters.

    History have demonstrated the strategic ability to control the seas is a key to winning a war. Had the Royal Navy couldnt resolve the menacing U-boat packs in the Atlantic, Britain wouldn’t able to sustain World War II, let alone start to fight back against the Germans & turn the table around.

    RMN should hv more than 2 subs. Look at Singapore, which is so dependent on the maritime as their life-blood. They hv 6 subs. Any naval agression force would consider so many times over before staging any conflict against Singapore via the seas.

    Even the Indonesians would soon hv 5 submarines. And the Vietnamese would soon hv 6 submarines.

    Damn the Oppositions which politicize, manipulate & even fabricate & lie the submarine acquisition to an absurd point of disbelief. They did so much injustice which hurt the Well being of Malaysia’s trade & economic progress.

    Minister of Defence already said the process to acquire the subs is in adherence to the MOF guidelines. Its time the Malaysian public demand that RMN acquire more assets to ensure our maritime waterways & borders are well protected. This include, more submarines.

    God bless these submariners. God bless the Navy.

    • Totally agree!

      Subs are ‘force multiplier’. When any naval force make any consideration to go at-arms against another navy with a submarine force, then they hv to ‘factor’ surface ships capability upto a multiplier of ten. Subs very lethal weapon for any naval force to fight on.

      RMN should buy more subs.

      Two more subs should comes to a bill of probably RM 3.5-4b. If buying LCS program costs RM 9b, then half of that could provide RMN 6 times ‘multiplier force’ the capability from the amount which has been channeled away from the LCS program.

      Great economics. No?

      • Good of you to put in an opinion here – I assume you are a foreigner and your views are welcome.

        I don’t know much about economics but I’ve seen documentaries on how the German U boats destroyed British and American merchant ships carrying war materials during the early part of World War II. They were a huge menace, greatly hampered the British, and later the Allied war effort, until whacked by the British, American and Canadian naval forces.

        If Singapore, a tiny island south of Peninsular Malaysia, has 6 subs, it is simple logic that Malaysia should have more than them. And Malaysia is divided into two parts – Peninsular and Sabah & Sarawak, Singapore being in the middle.

        Despite Asean, pronouncements of friendly intentions etc, I have concerns over Singapore having Zionist Israeli advisers in their military and their taking in huge numbers of Taiwanese and mainland Chinese now making Chinese 72% of the population of an island which was Malay majority even at the time when stupid Tengku A Rahman let it go FOC to Lee Kuan Yew. Why would they take Zionist military advisers in the midst of Muslim neighbours to their north and to their south?

  3. A tribute to our submariners,

    “Submariners are a bunch of very intelligent misfits that somehow seem to get along, understand each other and work well together.”

    — A skimmer (surface warfare) officer say this while talking to a visiting civillian

    “Submariners are a special brotherhood, either all come to the surface or no one does. On a submarine, the phrase all for one and one for all is not just a slogan, but reality.”

    — VADM Rudolf Golosov of the Russian Navy

  4. Visit Freemalaysiakini2.com No subscription needed…..,

    • This is different from the loathsome and foreign funded Oppo hippo Malaysiakini, innit?

      If so, hope you say so on every promo. Thank you.

    • Oooo, noooo. It’s the Neocons and Zionist-funded malaysia kuno. A peep at the contents made me run away quickly. Now “free” cash wise, but will bring a lot of anxieties, distaste and vomit that will bring doctors’ bills and become not free.

      I won’t touch it with a 40 feet pole even if paid to read it. All sorts of lies, half truths, twists and spins in there. Home Minister Hishamuddin had previously warned them for reporting what he said wrongly.

      You would be badly misled if you read that blog, folks. It’s not a “news portal”, it’s just a blog.

  5. Thank you for sharing a little on our men ‘under the waves”

  6. Thank you for the kind tribute to Arwah Mus. I knew him from MRSM days and later when he joined the Company though not for long as he was posted to Brest with the Project team. He was indeed a fine gentleman, a kind and gentle person and most of all an asset to the Company. I am sure if he was still around, he would have been proud of the achievements made and could dispel all the untruths spun by the Opposition on the Submarine contract. Alfathihah.

  7. Ahlul angkatan kapal selam ni jelas perwira luar biasa. Mereka adalah bukti Anak Melayu boleh dlm apa bidang sekali pun.

    Persepsi adalah strategi dlm pertahanan.

    Pembangkang memutar belit & berbohong dgn tujuan mencapai objektif politik mereka. Dgn menggunakan media yg disokong Yahudi Neo Con & pentas sarkas luar negara utk cari perhatian dgn pembohongan, mereka sebenarnya melemahkan pertahanan negara.

    Ini kerja PENGKHIANAT!

    Negara beruntung golongan perwira ini sedia berkhidmat bagi kepentingan majoriti & plural, walaupun minoriti seperti Pembangkang tergamak menggadaikan apa saja, termasuk maruah & pertahanan negara.

  8. Pada hemat saya kerajaan pada ketika ini menjadi lemah akibat dari serangan/fitnah/tohmahan/kritikan bertubi-tubi pembangkang. Mereka seolah-oah berada didalam ‘defensive mode’, terpaksa membuat keputusan yang lebih menjurus kepada populist dan tidak mahu mengambil sebarang risiko. Justeru tiadalah harapan dalam masa terdekat untuk negara kita memiliki kapal selam tambahan walaupun KEPERLUAN dan FAEDAHnya ternyata besar kepada negara.

    Harus diketahui bahawa faedah yang dibawa oleh kapal selam negara bukan sahaja dari aspek memastikan keselamatan dan mempertahankan kedaulatan negara tetapi turut merangkumi aspek ekonomi dan perkembangan teknologi. Lihatlah di Kota Kinabalu sekarang betapa ramainya masyarakat setempat yang bergantung kepada kerja-kerja yang berkaitan dengan senggaraan dan perbekalan kepada kapal selam tersebut.

    Masaalahnya 2 buah tidak cukup. Ia tidak mampu meyediakan ‘economy of scale’ untuk industri berkaitan bercambah. Sebagai contoh, jika sebuah kapal selam perlu melaksanakan senggaraan tertentu sekali setiap 6 bulan, ini bermakna industri berkaitan hanya mendapat ‘job’ 2 kali setiap tahun. Jadi syarikat tersebut tidak mampu untuk menampung kos spt gaji pekerja sepanjang tahun hanya untuk melaksanakan kerja yg datang 2 kali setahun. Jika kita miliki 6 buah kapal selam, syarikat berkaitan seperti ini akan mendapat kerja setiap 2 bulan, jadi berbaloilah mereka melabur untuk membina kapasiti dan kepakaran yang bersesuaian. Apabila tiada kapasiti atau kepakaran tempatan, kita terpaksa ‘mengimport’ kepakaran dari luar negara, sudahnya kos menjadi berlibat kali ganda. Kita akan terperangkap dalam apa yang mat saleh sebut sebagai ‘vicious circle’.

    Kita jangan lihat pada tokey besar sahaja dan terus buat kesimpulan negatif. Pandanglah nasib pekerja biasa seperti pencuci kapal, pemandu kapal tunda, welder, tukang besi, kren operator, supplier kecil-kecilan, makcik kantin dan sebagainya. Ada kapal selam adalah pekerjaan dan adalah sumber rezeki mereka. Semakin ramai orang terlibat pula, maka semakin pesat membangunlah kawasan setempat.

    Semoga kerajaan akan mempertimbangkan keputusan untuk memperolehi lebih banyak kapal selam dimasa hadapan.

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