KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The missing Malaysian combat boat CB204 has been found after 31 hours at sea, and its seven Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) officers were safe and well, but hungry.
RMN chief, Admiral Abdul Aziz Jaafar, said while on its search 129 nautical miles north-west of Kota Kinabalu, navy ship KD Ganas suddenly picked up a distress call at about 3pm yesterday.
Apparently, CB204 experienced engine and steering gear problems and was adrift 30 nautical miles off the navy security post.
It was found close to the Malaysia's Station Uniform in the Spratly atoll.
"All the crew members had for food were biscuits," said Admiral Abdul Aziz.
"They were meant to be on a 10-hour patrol mission only. I am very proud of my men," he said. "Under normal circumstances, it would have been difficult to work in such rough seas but they persevered."
CB204, captained by Lieutenant Azri Bakar, departed from the Kota Kinabalu navy base with navy ship KD Paus at 5am on Sunday, en route to Gugusan Semarang Peninjau.
Five hours later, KD Paus relayed a message that both the vessels would turn back due to bad weather. However, at 11.15am, KD Paus said it lost sight of and communication with CB204.
Tan Sri Abdul Aziz explained that it was a mix-up over radio frequencies that led to CB204 going missing from KD Paus' line of sight.
"They did not get the order to turn back," he said. "KD Paus was communicating over VHF (Very High Frequency) but CB204 was on UHF (Ultra High Frequency). So instead of turning back, CB204 went futher on," he added.
Adm Abdul Aziz said the navy would conduct an inquiry and study the flaws that led to the vessel going missing.
Besides Lt Azri, the others on board CB204 were crew members Christopher Mani, Ince Evin, Steven Hudson Miso, Nor Azuan Ariffin, Sulhajji Daah and Mohd Azhry Maani.
Six vessels from the navy and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency were deployed in the search. Also joining in were three Royal Malaysian Air Force aircraft.
By 6.40pm, Navy Region II commander Rear Admiral Datuk Mohammad Rosland Omar said: "Now our efforts are to tow back the boat."
CB204 is expected to reach base at about 7pm on Tuesday.
CB204 is part of the Combat Boat 90 (CB90) series, manufactured in Sweden.