Malaysia Maritime Environmental Issues and its Impact on Naval Operations

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Seas and oceans traditionally used by us to have all the source of rich, opportunity and abundance. The vast area of it has given us the aspiration either to use or to abuse it.A  Most of the countries in this world are connected with sea and ocean, which make the line of communication and transportation easily done through it.A  Many years ago while air transportation is impossible, transportation through land could take a month to reach. Sea and ocean line was used heavily either for trade, communication or expanding the power beyond the borders.A  The increasing awareness by us has changed the point of view that the feel of appreciation which not only in a sense of importance for economy and social, but also in a sense of security.A  Maritime security and safety issues are major and hot topics nowadays.A  It is spoken all over the world, especially in this modern and globalise era where crime has no longer a matter of a single country but a matter concerning everybody.A  It is borderless and at any time can happen anywhere.A  Because of the large maritime area, this crime is very difficult to contain particularly in the area where the enforcement is less due to lack of security assets.A  This situation worries the country, especially those are depending directly to the sea as a source of development.

Maritime threats have existed ever since commerce went to sea.A  Now, it's just in what capacity and in what dimension.A  Threat to maritime in aspect of maritime security and safety can be from any kind such as piracy, sea robbery, human trafficking, smuggling and others, which cover up to sea pollution.A  Malaysia's total sea area of 614,159 square kilometres is almost twice its landmass and the size of itsExclusive Economic Zone(EEZ) alone is 453,186 square kilometres.A  An estimated 70 percent of the population lives along 4,800 kilometres of coastline area, which have rich ecosystem and biodiversity.]With these unique backgrounds, it has offered tremendous economic value and prospects to Malaysia.A  Major economic activities are offshore petroleum, marine transport, marine tourism, fisheries and aquaculture. As a maritime nation, Malaysia is a party to a number of international conventions dealing with marine pollution, which laid down important rules to be followed by state parties to prevent and control marine pollution.A  Some reports have concluded that the quality of marine environment and life in our country is showing signs of decline.According to Oxford Dictionary (7th edition) environmental issues can best define with something connected to natural conditions that affect behaviour and development of something.A  To be more precise, environmental issues are negative aspects of human activity on the biophysical environment.A  Few examples of maritime environmental issues are conservation, environmental degradation, environmental health, nanotechnology, nuclear issues, water pollution, air pollution and resource depletion.A  To explain further, the definitions of environmental issues in law perspective as follows:

Any direct or indirect alteration of the physical, thermal, chemical, or biological properties of any part of the environment by discharging, emitting, or depositing environmentally hazardous substances, pollutants or wastes so as to affect any beneficial use adversely, to cause a condition which is hazardous or potentially hazardous to public health, safety, or welfare, or to animals, birds, wildlife, fish or aquatic life, or to plants or to cause a contravention of any condition, limitation or restriction.

Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) is one of the maritime agencies in Malaysia which one of the roles and functions is to safeguard our national interest.A  Hence, theroles and functions are the bread and butter to the RMN, and of course it is not limiting the usage, freedom of manoeuvres in Malaysian waters for whatever reasons.A  In connection to maritime environmental issues, the RMN has a strong sense of commitment in upholding the community values of Malaysia.A  At the forefront of these values are respect for the environment and a growing need to ensure that naval operations are undertaken by sustainable methods and that the environment is preserved for future generations.


With the current capabilities and ageing of warships, RMN has a bigger issues to adhere to the rules and regulations with regards to environmental friendly and thus will affect the conduct of RMN Operations.Indeed there are inventions of new environmental friendly technologies and of course will increase operational efficiency, but due to the limited budget on national defence sector, RMN is to wisely maintain its own asset and at the same time parallel to environmental issue requirements.


The objectives of this study as follows:

  1. To examine the relationship between Naval Operations and maritime environmental issues.
  2. To determine what is the negative factor contributes by RMN warships in relations to maritime environmental issues.
  3. To determine whether the capability of RMN in conducting operations isconstrainedby the current environmental policy and legislation.
  4. To suggest solutions towards the environment compliant warship without jeopardizing required operations.


RMN warships are not much different with any commercial vessel and thus should comply withenvironmental regulations such as the Environment Quality Act 1974.A  Due to the integrity, RMN should set a very good example in complying not only to the act, but to adhere to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982 and a number of international maritime environmental conventions in order to portray a good image to the public.A  RMN warships should be able to operate without restriction in ports or open seas.A  Due to some intensive measures on environmental issues, there aresome restrictions and constraint on naval activity with regards to ships design and conduct of operations.A  Hence, the study should be able to determine the best solution for win-win situation.


The literature of the research mainly based on environmental thesis papers,which havebeen done by scholars as a reference.A  Generally, the literature addresses Malaysia's environmental qualities, environmental justice and common public attitudes towards the environment.A  It is further discussed about policies, practices and Malaysia's commitment to international agreements which to be scrutinized.A  The literature as well as provides information with regards to consequences of the fast track style of development on our natural resources, health, quality of life and ecosystems.


The preparation of this research paper is based on the secondary data,mainly from books and other published articles.A  Most of the material from military references are classified Restricted.A  Therefore, limits the research on the subject matter. Time constrained is the biggest setback and hindered a more commendable study of the existing issues.


The primary method will be through literature research.A  Therefore, the sources will be published books and journal articles spanning the subject areas of Malaysia Environment Issues and RMN Operations.A  Newspaper articles, speeches by relevant personalities and interviews will also be sought after.A  Information will also be extracted from official governmental or organisation websites.


The paper will be organised into five chapters as follows:

Chapter 1 : Introduction . This chapter is the introduction of the subject and layout of the paper.

Chapter 2 : Maritime Operations .A  This chapter will elaborate the concept and conduct of Naval Operations focusing on the RMN.

Chapter 3 : Existing Maritime Environmental Issues and Degree of RMN Compliance .A  This chapter examines a series of environmental issues, related to shipping design and operation.Its further discuss the degree of compliance for each issue, against existing environmental legislation and regulations.

Chapter 4 : Impacts to RMN .A  This chapter will discuss the impact on RMN current operations and to determine whether the capability of RMN in conducting operations is constrained by the current environmental policy and legislation.

Chapter 5 : Conclusion .A  This chapter includes a discussion on the possible outcomes and to suggest solutions towards an environment compliant warship without jeopardizing required operations.




During the course of recorded history, mankind has perpetually looked towards the sea as a provider of nourishment, as a channel for trade and for the migration of people, culture or idea. The last three millennia has witnessed the development of maritime craft from simple design to the fully computerised ships of the modern day era.A  In relation to safe guard maritime national security, warship has been designed and developed as a symbol of supremacy and struggle for control of the seas and trade influence in faraway lands.A  Warships have been instruments of both good and evil and have influenced the evolution of mankind.A  As a maritime nation, Malaysia is not excluded in enhancing and developing its naval capabilities.A  Located at the crossroads of Southeast Asia and the sea are seen as an increasingly important factor in the economic and security aspect of this country.

The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) started from humble beginnings with a rudimentary naval force of coal burning launches and small coastal patrol boats during the colonial time.A  Today, the RMN fleet comprises an assortment of modern warships, submarines and naval helicopters armed with state of the art command, control, communication, computers and information (C4I) armed with long-range guided missiles and protected by the most modern electronic warfare systems.A  This has completed the metamorphosis of RMN from the coastal Brown Water Navy into a Blue Water Navy, a modern armada.

In order to parallel with its vision ‘To be a World Class Navy (Always Excellent)', RMN have to be a committed organisation, competent, forward looking, strive for quality and always seek for continuous improvement in managing its own source and technology.A  Presently, the roles of the RMN are two-fold; during wartime, the RMN is to ensure the maritime sovereignty of Malaysia while during peacetime, its role is to protect the nation's maritime interest that included Malaysia's offshore resources, especially oil and gas, shipping and fishing. Since environmental issues are a major challenge and concern throughout the world, the RMN has to develop its operations toward supporting the environmental friendly.


Naval operations will be the largest contributor toward the maritime environmental issues if it is not being tackled well.A  To narrow down the scope of this research, the focus and discussions will be towards the RMN operations.A  Every naval exercise always associated with the universal role known as ‘The Trinity of Naval Functions' (Figure 2.1) namely military, constabulary and diplomacy.A  The first role is the military which is to enforce of state sovereignty and defend the national jurisdictions in the sea by way of control and deterrence at sea.A  Secondly is constabulary roles, the navy carried this to enforce the security and law to protect marine resources and the national marine wealth, to maintain order at sea and to support the national development.A  The third role is diplomacy. Naval forces are the visible mobile and potent symbols of the nation state and such are the useful instruments of foreign policy.A  These roles and functions are the bread and butter to the RMN, and of course it is not limiting the usage, freedom of manoeuvres in Malaysian waters for whatever reasons.


Malaysia as a maritime nation is the facts that can't be argued about.A  The sea area is larger than the land mass and a unique feature of being a country split by an ocean supporting the facts.A  Malaysia is divided by the South China Sea into two main land masses namely the Peninsular Malaysia on the western side and Sabah and Sarawak on the eastern side.A  These two land masses are being separated by more than 1000 kilometres of navigable waters.A  Malaysia and the nations of the region are reliant on the sea for transportation; they draw greatly on the maritime environment for living and mineral resources.A  Maritime forces have significant access and control in our region.Thus, Malaysia requires maritime forces able of curb the challenges of our strategic geographical conditions. The RMN is essentially responsible for protecting Malaysia's maritime interest.A  To meet these tasks, the RMN is provided with various assets ranging from old and obsolete patrol craft to the most modern and highly sophisticated state of the art frigates and corvettes capable of carrying out all the four dimensions of naval warfare, namely surface, sub-surface, air and electronic warfare.

2.3.1 Anti Surface Warfare ( ASu W )

The main dimension of Naval Operations is ASuW defined as follows:

The actions necessary to detect, identify and counter an adversary's surface capability.A  ASuW operations, which may include sea control and sea denial operations, disruption of Sea Lane of Communications (SLOCs), defence offriendly forces from surface attack, or a combination of all, seek toensure that the necessaryaction are conducted in a timely fashion, denying any adversary the ability to employ forces in an effective manner.

Thus, freedom of manoeuvre and able to sustain long period of operations is the major requirements for the RMN warships.

2.3.2 Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW)

In order to counter subsurface threat, RMN warships must be able to detect the enemy using any available sensors.A  Therefore to locate a submarine requires a very hectic and thorough procedure which this will requires warships to stay longer at operational area.A  The elements of ASW as follows:

ASW comprises operations with the intention of denying the opponent the effective use of submarines.A  The ASW protection of a force depends on defence in depth and close coordination between ships, helicopters, Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), shore-based facilities and friendly submarines.A  The complexity of such coordination and the special environmental factor involved makes the submarine threat one of the most difficult problems to counter.

2.3.3 Anti Air Warfare (AAW)

Warships are vulnerable once detected at the open sea, therefore it exposed to be attacked, AAW in the maritime situation required fast reactionof its sensors and personnel, in order to counter the threat.A  The purpose of AAW is defined as:

Is the term used for the defence of friendly forces against the threat of aircraft and airborne weapon, whether launched from air, surface, or submarine platforms.A  AAW is the maritime term for defensive counter air operations and is part of the joint air defence system.A  AAW is based on the principle of defence in depth and layered defence, defeating air attacks at the maximum possible distance from maritime forces

2.3.4 Electronic Warfare (EW)

In EW, an electromagnetic and acoustic spectrum is being exploited as to integrate to the various warfare areas, such as AAW, ASUW and ASW.A  Warships and aircraft are equipped with a variety of systems that utiliseor exploit the electromagnetic and acoustic spectrums in order to give early information on enemy position [24] and activities.


Being a small navy, the RMN needs to evolve to remain relevant.A  It has to create a credible force encompassing an integrated system of ships, aircraft, submarines and well trained personnel, but resource are increasingly scarce.A  To stay ahead, the RMN has to do more with less.A  In other words, one of the RMN challenges is to stay ahead by achieving improvement through the application of creative and innovative solutions and making all round improvements continuously.A  The other challenges are the need to adopt technological advancement, continuous upgrading of the existing fleet to ensure the highest state of readiness and effectiveness and achieving synergy in the future warfare scenario.A  The procurement of new technologies and upgrading of its asset must parallel with the environmental friendly requirements.

In 1994, the EarthCheck Global Standard was established by the travel and tourism industry to provide a mechanism for the promotion of environmentally sustainable tourism.A  It is also demonstrating a commitment towards environmental and social responsibilities, better environmental risk management procedures and asset protection.A  With the current awareness towards meeting the growing environmental requirement for compliance, RMN has started with KD LEKIU and KD SRI INDERASAKTI as a pioneer.A  The bold action by the RMN is influences by following factors:

  1. The RMN ships will acknowledge as no different than other commercial vessels and thus its will bind to the same rules and regulations.
  2. Environmental issues are currently complex and need special attention and requiring effective and flexible long-range planning.
  3. It is difficult to forecast the environmental requirement due to ageing if warships in order to develop appropriate responses.
  4. The international community is increasingly applying a coordinated global approach to foster marine environmental issues.A  Thus, the RMN should portray a good image in addressing the problem a pro-active way.
  5. Strict rules and regulations in controlling the marine pollution are now being implemented in coastal areas and also being expanded on the high seas.
  6. The RMN approaches toward environmental friendly warships is unable to meet the complex challenges of environmental compliance.A  More strategic and forward-looking plan for future ships is to be implemented.
  7. The RMN approach toward environmental friendly warships is eventually costly and may sometimes endanger the health of service personnel as well as operational effectiveness.
  8. A better environmental compliant warship design is much more significant due to the good return of investment in operational and cost benefits.A  It will not have to rely on shore support for waste management.

Apart from these commitments, warships basically having the privileges of sovereign immunity and special exemption as discuss below.

Complete exemption of warships and other ships owned or operated by a State and used only on government non-commercial service from the application of the convention so far as both main rules and enforcement provision are concerned.

Having said that, the RMN has a strong sense of commitment in upholding the community values of Malaysia, thus naval operations are properly planned as to suite the environmental stewardship in order to preserve it for future generations and therefore,will give the RMN a fine record.A  It appears that there were operational benefits from sound environmental practices and the RMN is slowly to adopt this concept.A 


In conclusions Maritime Operations is a challenging business.A  Having a vast area of operations with a multi faceted of the threat, the RMN continuously been challenged by the new development such as the rise of non-traditional maritime security issues and the complexity of maritime environmental issues.A  Maritime operations, parallel with environmental issues will provide a better solution in managing the maritime security issues.A  In another case, it will give some operational benefit to the RMN since every item onboard has been well maintained and the operational requirementsare easily tackled. Apart from having the special privileges and immunity of warships, the RMN should not take this advantage to take part as one of the environmental non-compliance conducts.A  As to progress toward environmental stewardship, the RMN therefore should act like no different than international ocean shipping, which binds to the rules and regulations as to uphold the community values of Malaysia.





The RMN warship is no different than other international oceans shipping all over the world; more or less it would contribute to the effect of the environmental issues.A  Most studies have found that the international ocean shipping industry accounts for roughly three percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.A  This means that if the ocean shipping industry were a country, it would rank seventh in the world in emissions.A  Its shows that more or less ocean shipping industry contributed to environmental problems, hence warships are not excluded.A  Even though warship has been thoroughly design, but it still contributes to some extend the environmental effect while doing their operational task.A  As we go through our daily life, which is increasingly becoming fast paced and hectic, only a few of us take a time out to look around and notice the devastating effects of modem civilization on the environment.A  The environment has to sustain not only the basic human needs for survival but also the conversion of raw materials into goods and services.

Ensure continuous improvement in the productivity and quality of the environment while pursuing economic growth and human development.

Ensure the highest commitment to environmental protection and accountability by all decision makers in the public and private sectors, resource users, non-governmental organisations and the general public, in formulating, planning and implementing their activities.

Based on above principles in Malaysia National Policy on the Environment, the RMN is yet to adopt this principle officially because the negative aspect to the environment is very minute, but in a long term period the effect will slowly affect the environment, and this will de discuss further in following paragraph.A  Therefore, planning and implementing activities from designing of warships to the way executioner part of the operations are to be monitored and suit to the highest commitment of environmental protection.

Malaysia has a sound and viable National Environmental Policy and adequate legal regime to cope with challenges of the present day marine pollution issuesA  The protection of the marine environment and degree of the RMN compliance were based on Environmental Quality Act 1974, Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952, Merchant Shipping Oil Pollution Act 1994, Exclusive Economic Zone Act 1984 and Fisheries Act 1985.


Threats to the environment are an increasing concern for states, societies and the international community. In relations to naval operations, below are the related maritime environmental issue which more or less hascontributed to the emerging problems.

3.2.1 Water Pollution

Water pollution may be less conspicuous than the solid waste pollution, but it is probably even more dangerous.A  This is partly because a wider range of harmful chemicals falls in this category and partly because it is more mobile as compared to the solid waste materials.A  With regard to marine environmental issues, liquid pollutants are generated from ships and offshore installations.A  Liquids are simply dumped into the oceans without any treatment.A  One of the most common liquid wastes is sewage.A  In many cases sewage is discharged to the sea without any treatment, which will create disease producing bacteria thus the plant and animal life in it cannot survive and the water becomes anoxic or lifeless.

3.2.2 Air Pollution and Degradation of the Atmosphere

Air pollution is one of the toxic forms that affect the environment.A  Air, by far, is the most important aspect to human life.Air pollution and air quality has become a huge topic in the world today.A  The air quality is different depending on your location where about.A  For examples, Los Angeles is very smoggy and has poor quality versus the forests of Brazil that have very clean air, meanwhile Kuala Lumpur is experiencing seasonal haze from month of July to October every year.A  Polluting the air with any kind of foreignmaterial such as carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, carbon mono-oxide, hydrogen sulphide, volatile organic compounds, chlorine, chloroform, chlorinedioxide and making environment dangerous to live for living species is called air pollution.

Air pollution is actually the accumulation of any unsafe substances to the atmosphere, which causes the destructive of the environment, human health and the quality of life.A  The increasing of shipping industries has increased in air pollution and even though ships are operating far from land, more or less it has contributed to the increase in the death rates resulting from various diseases caused by air pollution varying from breathing problem to lung cancer. Air pollution does not only affect people, but it also damages the whole ecological system in which plants and animals are harmed as well. Air pollution has reached such a critical stage where it affects the earth's atmosphere as it lets in more harmful radiation from the sun. Consequently, our polluted atmosphere is becoming a better insulator, thus, preventing heat from escaping back into space. That is why there is a global rise in temperature, which scientists refer to as ‘global warming'.A  Pursuant to this rise in temperature the world food supply and sea level will be affected, also there is the probability of the increase in the tropical disease.

Air pollution also has a dramatic effect on natural resources.A  Ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, coral reefs, and rivers perform many important services for Earth's environment.A  They enhance water and air quality, provide habitat for plants and animals, and provide food and medicines. Any or all of these ecosystem functions may be impaired or destroyed by air pollution.A  Moreover, because of the complex relationships among the many types of organisms and ecosystems, environmental contamination may have far-reaching consequences that are not immediately obvious or that are difficult to predict.

3.2.3 Global Warming

The excessive production of Carbon dioxide to the environment is one of the factors that have affected the ozone layer.Thus it willprevent some amount of solar energy from being radiated back to space. This phenomenon is known as the greenhouse effect which leads to global warming.Among the industrialized countries, USA, Russia, Japan and France are the largest contributors to this menace.USA alone accounts for 42% of the total carbon dioxide emission all over the wor1d.Most countries in this region like Malaysia and Indonesia are rapidly approaching the emission levels recorded.As of now a rise of average atmospheric temperature has been reported over the past 75 years and is likely to continue into the next century. Global warming has resulted in shrinking of glaciers and ice sheets; a rise of 6 to 37inches in the mean sea level is predicted by the year 2100.Low lying countries within this region such as Bangladesh and Indonesia risk getting submerged by the rising sea levels. Global warming will aggravate the water crisis in summer months. It would also lead to expansion of geographical range of tropical pests and will increase the chances of forest fires.

3.2.4 Ozone Depletions

The stratospheric ozone layer existing between altitudes of 12 to 35 kilometres is considered as a protective shield or an umbrella for the earth because it prevents the ultraviolet rays from reaching the surface of the earth.In the absence of this layer, no life would be possible because the sun rays would raise the temperature of the lower atmosphere making the earth a blast furnace. The importance of the ozone layer came to light in 1985 when a hole was detected over Antarctica.Chloro Flouro Carbons or CFCs are the group of the gases, which are largely responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer. These synthetic chemicals are widely used as propellants in spray cans, air conditions and refrigerators. Thus CFCs in addition to carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are termed as greenhouse gases as they all contribute to the greenhouse effect. In addition to this, Ozone layer depletion has caused a definite rise in the cases of skin cancer it is estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) that 12% decrease in the ozone layer would cause skin cancer in up to half a million people per annum.

3.2.5 Acid Rain

Acid rain is the serious pollution hazard. It causes irreparable damage to agricultural crops, forests, aquatic life and even the human body. It corrodes buildings, pollutes the drinking water and degrades soil. Major sources of sulphur dioxide emission are thermal power plants, crude oil refineries and automobiles, which together account for 50% of the sulphur dioxide pollution.Rainwater of pH less than 5.6 is considered acidic. Emissions of waste gases from industries, vehicle exhausts and power generation are causes of rainwater acidity.When the pH levels of lakes and rivers fall below about 5.5, many species of fish will die, and this in turn is followed by changes in the ecosystem.Acid rain is corrosive to metals such as iron and zinc roof, marble and limestone.Low pH values have been attributed by an increased in industrial activity and large numbers of motor vehicles emitting considerable amounts of sulphur and nitrogen compounds into the atmosphere.Acid rain is detrimental to life and life-support systems. Acidity is measured by hydrogen ion concentration, designated as pH, and is measured on a scale of 1 to 14. A pH value below 7 is acidic, and above 7 is alkaline.Rain acidity in Peninsular Malaysia is on the rise and the number of areas affected by acid rain is growing. Studies by the Meteorological Service Department exposed that, to date the acid rain is becomingworrying environmental problem.


Most of the international environmental law is based on agreement or treaty.With regard to the protection of the marine environment, Malaysia adheres to a number of international conventions. The treaties are as follows:

  1. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), 1982.
  2. Maritime Pollutions Convention (MARPOL), 73/78.
  3. International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation (OPRC), 1990.
  4. International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1992.
  5. International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage 1992.

Treaties are made to be performed. ‘Pacta sunt servanda' or the rule that treaties arebinding on the parties and must be performed in good faith is the fundamental principle of customary international law. This principle has been reaffirmed in Article 26 of theVienna Convention on the law of Treaties 1969, ‘Every treaty in force is binding uponthe parties to it and must be performed in good faith'.

Therefore, Malaysia is obliged to the binding laws and thus not excluding the RMN in this context. This paper will only discuss one domestic rule and twointernational treaties as to examine and relate the degree of the RMN compliance in environmental issues.

3.3.1 Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Act 1984

The Exclusive Economic Zone Act 1984 is an important Malaysian statute devised to implement certain aspects of the UNCLOS 1982.Part IV of the EEZ Act deals with protection and preservation of the Marine environment. Under Section 9, Malaysia has the sovereign right to exploit her natural resources in the EEZ pursuant to her environmental policies and in accordance with her duty to protect and preserve the marine environment in the zone. Offences under the EEZ Act are the discharge or escape of oil or pollutant in the EEZ; and failures to comply with directions to remove, disperse, destroy or mitigate damage by pollution.

As mentioned above by Dr. Abdul Ghafur in his paper, the EEZ act is a devised used to curb maritime pollution and interrelated with UNCLOS convention.A  Therefore the RMN is to oblige to enforce this rule and also need to adhere to the regulations when conducting her operations.

3.3.1 United Nations Conventions Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

Malaysia is one of the signatory countries to this convention.A  As a party to UNCLOS, Malaysia is obliged to comply with the principles laid down in the Convention.Therefore, the RMN is obliged:

  1. To protect and preserve the marine environment.
  2. To exploit its natural resources with sound environmental policies and in accordance with its duty to protect and preserve its marine environment.
  3. To take all measures necessary to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment, using the ‘best practicable means' at their disposal and in accordance with their capabilities
  4. To ensure that activities under its jurisdiction or control are so conducted as not to cause damage by pollution to other States and their environment.
  5. To prevent pollution of the marine environment by addressing particular sources of pollution.
  6. To monitor the risks and effects of pollution of the marine environment and to carry out ‘environmental impact assessment' of activities under its jurisdiction or control.

In relations to this rule, the RMN is to ensure that naval operations are undertaken by sustainable methods as to preservethe environment for future generations.

3.3.2 Maritime Policy (MARPOL)

The main international convention regulating pollution from vessels is MARPOL 73/78.A  The detailed rules on pollution from ships are set out in six Annexes to the Convention as follows:

Annex I : Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Oil - Any operational discharge of oil or oily mixtures from an oil tanker is prohibited, unless all the following conditions are satisfied:

  1. The tanker is not within a special area;
  2. The tanker is more than 50 nautical miles from the nearest land;
  3. The tanker is proceeding en route;
  4. The instantaneous rate of discharge of oil content does not exceed 30 litres per nautical mile.
  5. The total quantity of oil discharged into the sea does not exceed, for tankers delivered on or before 31 December 1979, 1/15,000 of the total quantity of the particular cargo, and for tankers delivered after 31 December 1979, 1/13,000 of the total quantity of the particular cargo; and
  6. The tanker has in operation an oil discharge monitoring and control system and a slop tank arrangement as required under the Annex.

Annex II:Regulations for the Control of Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk - Some 250 substances were evaluated and included in the list appended to the Annex. The discharge of their residues is allowed only to reception facilities until certain concentrations, and conditions are complied with. In any case, no discharge of residues containing noxious substances is permitted within 12 miles from the nearest land.

Annex III:Prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances Carried by Sea in Packaged Form - Contains generalrequirements for the issuing of detailed standards on packing, marking, labelling, documentation, stowage, quantity limitations, exceptions andnotifications for preventing pollution by harmful substances. This Annex shouldbe implemented through the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG)Code, which has been amended to include marine pollutants.

Annex IV: Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Ships - Contains general requirementsto control pollution of the sea by sewage from ships. Specifically, it providesthat the discharge of sewage is prohibited,unless:

  1. The ship discharges disinfected sewage in a manner approved by theConvention at a distance of more than 4nm from the nearest land.
  2. In cases where the sewage is not disinfected, sewage is discharged at apaced rate at a distance of more than 12nm from the nearest land.

The above, however, does not apply when the discharge is necessary for thesake of saving lives or when the discharge occurs as a matter of mitigating theincidence of a larger escape.

Annex V:Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships - Relates to the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships, and it applies to all ships. Perhaps the most important feature of the Annex is the complete ban imposed on the dumping into the sea of all forms of plastic.A  The Annex regulates different types of garbage and specifies the distances from land and the way they may be disposed of.Lining and packing materials which float cannot be disposed ofwithin 25 nautical miles of land, disposal of food waste and all other garbage isprohibited within 12 nautical miles of land.A  Except for food wastes, no garbage may bedisposed of from any fixed or floating platforms for the exploration and exploitation of seabed mineral resources.A  For special areas, more stringent requirements apply.

Annex VI: Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships - Contains requirements tocontrol air pollution from ships. The Annex outlines guidelines and provisions for the emission of differentsubstances and specifies the requirements for the testing, survey andcertification of marine diesel engines to ensure they are fully compliance, thus it will prohibit deliberate emissions of ozonedepleting substances.


Warships are no other different to any other ships in the world.A  As the navy is trying to seek compliance with regard to environmental issues, bellow is the few factors that should be tackled by the RMN first.

3.4 .1 Antifouling Paint Coatings

Antifouling paint is being used by ships below the water line as to reduce the effect of the growth of barnacles as to give more speed to ships in performing operational tasks.A  According to International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships, in order to preserve the environment, all antifouling paint must not contain harmful substance to underwater organism such as tin, lead and chromium in the paint mixture. As an alternative, ecoloflex substance is being used, but it will not solve the barnacle problem in total since the chemical substance is at the low level.A  Furthermore, its require ships to up slip regularly to conduct the maintenance, and it is not cost effective.A  Another ‘environmental free' substance is polyurethane treatment that is Interfleet.A  Unfortunately, it will only be effective at vessels which able to cruise more than 10 knots.A  Due to the varies type of ships and operations, warships must be able to proceed at a slow speed which is less than 10 knots, such as transiting through a mine field for an example.A  Thus, it will not solve the issues, and the RMN, for the time being, is not compliance to the convention.

3.4 .2 Fuel Transfer Activities

In order for warships to stay longer at their respective operational area, fuel transfer at sea is being practiced.A  Thus, precise navigation and ship handling are required to accomplish the replenishment activity.A  What fear most is an oil spill during this activity.A  It will endanger to marine life and difficult to purify once neglected.A  Marine species exposed to oil can cause problems such as susceptibility to disease and spay reproductive cycle.A  Even though such bad incident never happened, the RMN is taking serious in this matter.A  The safety precautions havebeen lay out in the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and Perintah Am Panglima Armada (PAPA) as to remind the Navy People to be vigilance at all time.A  In this aspect, the RMN is fully compliance to the listed regulations.

3.4 .3 Sonar Operations

Sound Navigation and Ranging (SONAR) is one of the equipment being used by warships and submarines to detect and classify under water contact.A  Mid Sonar produce an active pulse by emits sound by pulse to identify the distance, size and the speed of the underwater objects.A  The sonar wave bound on object and reflects back to the underwater acoustic receiver as echo.A  Depending on the exposure, active Sonar can harm the certain marine life such as making them deaf and disorientation.A  The uses of sonar by warships and submarines (depends on power output) will encourage migration of marine species into other territories, and it will generate an impact towards the nation's economic growth.A  There is no research about the migration of marine species due to sonar transmission being done in Malaysia, it is very difficult to verify the fact.A  Normally, during peace time, transmission of sonar or underwater exercise is being done in the gazetted operational area.A  The RMN compliance to these issues is still questionable to this region.

3.4 .4 Oily Waste and Bilge Water Management

Ship usually has the oily water separator to separate the oily water from oil and discharge overboard only the water.A  The oily water can come from the bilges, contaminated tanks and others.A  Oily water separator will divide the oil from water and direct the remaining oil to the used oil tank.A  According to MARPOL Annex 1 requirements, discharge overboard can be acceptable only if the oil concentration is less than 15 ppm but if the water is more than 15 ppm the system will trigger an alarm, and it will be stopped.A  The military involved in military operations usually been related with the misconduct on the discharge of oil wastage into the sea.A  Preventive actions could be implemented by enforcing such regulations to limit the discharge activities only at confined areas such as the basins or at the authorized port.A 

3.4 .5 Ballast Water

To stabilize the ship, sea water will be pumped into the ballast tank compartment according to the calculation. Ships that are not balanced and stabilized will lead to problems when navigating throughout the sea.A  This application also being used by the submarines while conducting their operational tasks.A  When filling the sea water in the tank, the ship's tank also filled by organisms that harmful to the ecosystem.A  Some harmful species can adapt to a new area quickly and cause danger to the area such as the spread of new diseases, alter the landscape and reduce the ability of local species in search of food.A  The water in the ballast tanks can also spread infectious diseases such as harmful bacteria and toxins that can cause alterations such as changes in growth, disruption of hormone cycles, birth defects, suppression of the immune system, and disorders resulting in cancer, tumours, and genetic abnormalities or even death to humans and marine life.A  The current guidelines for the control and management of ships' ballast water to minimise the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens are covered in IMO Resolution A.868(20), adopted in November 1997.A  The impact for the RMN is when the ship sailing to outside our territorial water. We must control all ballast water transfer onboard ship.A  The ship must be given strict instruction not to replenish the ballast tank except in the emergency situation. If there is any requirement to replenish the ballast water tank, the water must be tested properly to ensure there is no harm organism transfer to neighbourhood waters.

3. 4 .6 Ozone Depleting Substances

Freon and Halon are widely used onboard the RMN warships.A  This is due to the old technology and system still being used.A  Freon is used onboard ship as coolants in refrigeration and air conditioners, as solvents in cleaners, particularly for electronic circuit boards, and as propellants in aerosols while Halon is being used as one of the substances for fire main system.A  Halon, which contains bromine, is very effective in putting out fires.A  The New York Times, in an article by Malcolm W. Browne, stated that the recent agreement of 87 countries to ‘halt the manufacture of Halon fire extinguishers will eventually eliminate a potent threat to the earth's protective ozone layer'.A  The RMN is not fully compliance to the regulations since KD LAKSAMANA TAN PUSMAH and KLD TUNAS SAMUDERA still utilised Halon in putting out fires while the issue on usage of Freon has been solved by replacing another environmental friendly substance.A  The RMN had to expedite the modernisation of both ships to utilise to environmental friendly substance or system such as using the nitrogen gasand water mist system to fully compliance.

3.4 .7 Engine Exhaust Gas Emissions

The usage of low quality fuel has affected the environment.A  This will produce polluted air, which constituted 18% to 30% of nitrogen oxides and 9% of sulfur oxide.A  Sulfurwhen mixed with air can produce acid rain, which can damage the plants, organisms and buildings.A  If inhaled, sulfur can cause respiratory problems and even increase the risk of heart attack.A  Regulations on Engine exhaust gas emissions are enclosed in MARPOL Annex VI Ageing of asset and limited budget on defence industry is one of the key factors that negate the environmental requirements.

3.4 .8 Grey Water Management

Grey water is wastewater from the sinks, showers, galleys and laundry onboard ship. In particular, grey water has been potential to cause unfavourable environmental effects because of content of nutrients and other oxygen materials.A  Estimates of grey water range from 110 to 320 litres per day per person, or 330,000 to 960,000 litres per day for a 3,000-person cruise ship.Ageing of asset and limited budget on defence industry is one of the key factors that negate the environmental requirements.

3. 4 .9 Garbage Management

Garbage onboard ship is comprising of plastics, paper, cardboard, metals, food waste and medical waste.A  With regards to MARPOL Annex V, Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships, garbage is not to be thrown and to be kept onboard and to be disposed ashore.A  Due to limited storage area, mission endurance will be reduced.A  This will limit warship presence in operation area.

3.4 .10 Sewage Management

According to the MARPOL Annex IV Chapter 3, prohibit the discharge of sewage from ships at sea, unless the discharge is carried out through the sewage treatment plant and disinfecting system provided, that the ship is more than 3 nm from the nearest land or that is carried out from a holding tank provided that the ships is more than 3 nm from the nearest land [91].A  Sewage remaining in holding tank onboard ships may be discharged through waste management facilities located at port.A  The RMN is fully compliance to the rules and regulations but operational wise. It will limit operational hour ships at sea due to limited storage area onboard ships, thus will limit warship presence in operation area.


Current related environmental issues in this chapter aremore towards the design of ships rather than operational impacts.A  This will be costly effected in order to be compliance toward environmental stewardships.A  In relation to fulfil the said requirement, the RMN has to share their activities with the public.A  Therefore, the secrecy of naval operations in certain aspect is jeopardized.A 


Warships will always represent the country when conducting operational visits abroad.A  Thus, it is a compulsory to adhere to the stipulated rules and regulations be it local or international in order to upkeep the nation pride and integrity.A  It is noted that the RMN is not fully compliance to the said requirement due to the ageing of asset and limited budget on defence expenses even though the effect is not a major contributor toward maritime environmental issues and in the long term it will create an alarming problem.A  The environmental policy andlegislation will then became restrictive to the RMN Operations if the current asset is not being maintained well.Therefore, serious attention is required to solve this issue.




It is generally recognized now that marine pollution has developed into a serious environmental problem.A  More or less, the RMN has contributed to this issue and still at the level of under control.A  Even though warships are given special immunities and exemptions during the conduct of its operations, due to the commitment toward environmental stewardships, the RMN has taken this challenge in order to uphold the community values of Malaysia.A  This chapter will determine whether the capability of RMN in conducting operations is constrained by the current environmental policy and legislation.


Bad incident such contributions towards environmental non-compliance will portray a negative impact to the RMN. It will not only give the pessimistic perception from the public, but the incident somehow or rather require the government to pay a total sum of compensated money.A  Therefore, the reputation of the RMN can be jeopardise.A  The RMN in the other hand is difficult to gain trust from related Non-government Organisation (NGO) in relation to environment issues. The current organization of Fleet Readiness Department in the Fleet Commander Headquarters is the best organisation to monitor the progress and implementation on environmental stewardships.A  With the help of Engineering Department in RMN Headquarters, the RMN will easily implement the new policy.


In relations to the legislative and naval operations, the standards of sound environmental management are constantly being updated and in many cases are becoming more restrictive.A  Activities that were previously considered normal can become illegal pursuant to new environmental regulatory initiatives.In the other hand, some countries persist to follow the legislative conduct of environment compliance.A  In this case to reduced warship's immunity as being mentioned by Till as follows:

Some countries, for example, want to reduce the sovereign state immunity of warships so that they become susceptible to the safety and environmental regulations that bind civilian shipping.A  This encourages increased interest in ‘environmentally friendly' warship design.A  The onboard disposal of ship wastes (especially oil, plastics, hazardous material, medical wastes and so on) for example, allows navies to demonstrate leadership in the stewardship of the oceans.

With the ageing of warships, is the RMN ready to give way to its immunity is very subjective.A  It will take a lot of research that will implicate from the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to the development of environmental compliance machineries to be re-evaluated.A  The most important thing is to change the mindset of the Navy People, especially to those who serve onboard ships.A  Furthermore, the modernisation of its warships will take some time due to the limited budget on its defence industries.A  Thus, the RMN need to consider this legislative matter before proceeds to the implementation, because it will affect not only the operational wise of the RMN but the budget of course.


The RMN is yet to adopt the environmental concept in total.A  Ever since there is a requirement in implementing naval environmental policy, the doctrine of course is needed to be revised since the RMN has none of this reference.A  Even thought, the RMN has adopted few certificates in enhancing its conduct towards environmental friendly, yet the focus on maritime environmental issues is less.A  Among the certificates are Environmental Management System (EMS) 14001:2000 certified in 2007, Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSAS) 18001:2007 certified in 2009 and last but not least EarthCheck, which certified in 2010.

In developing its doctrine to suite the environmental friendly requirements, it will require major alignments between the SOP and legislative part in preserving the environment.A  This will takes some time for the Navy People at first to change their mindset, subsequently, to develop training and procedures before it can be fully adapted to the real operational tasking.A  The current international recognise certificates as mentioned earlier can be used in developing the doctrines.


The current development of naval technology has proven environmental friendly since the demand and design of this of product have increased.A  Due to the rapid development of technologies from time to time, the RMN is predicted to have difficulties in integrating between modern equipment and ageing of warships.A  As to relate with new technology being installed on board, the Navy People are to be prepared to develop its new SOP and to be re-trained in order to suite to the said requirements. Again, these required big allocations of money which depends on the budget allocated to the defence industries.


The major difference between naval and merchant ships, leading to different effects while sailing in similar environmental conditions, is their operational profile.A  Combatant vessels must be capable of withstanding design defined sea states, without any decrease in their fighting ability.

In relations to the above statement, the conduct of warships in its operational area is depended on its sustainability to be present on the tasked area.A  For an example, due to compact design of warships and its limited space, thus, it will limit the space for unwanted material such as garbage on board.A  If these unwanted materials to be keep onboard for a long period, it will create an unhealthy environment became a disease that will impact the personnel on board.

In adopting the environmental compliance, it will limit the operational area in coastal waters due to most of these areas are the marine protected areas such as Marines Parks.Furthermore, the usage of Sonar more or less will create the migration of fishes to the safer area.A  Thus the RMN needs to fully establish its own training exercise area as to negate the conflicts.A  In relation to fulfil the said requirement, the RMN has to share their activities with the public.A  Therefore, the secrecy of naval operations in certain aspect is jeopardized.A  So much so, the RMN need to properly plan its future operation as to support the environment stewardship.


We do agree that there is a special immunity to warships in enforcing their operational task at sea.A  In addition, with the current alarming environmental issues, the special privileges will be no longer applicable due to the public awareness and will assume and demand that warships is no other different with other shipping industries.A  Therefore, this requires full participations of the Navy People to change their mindset in implementing environmental stewardship.

Based on the examples and impacts as discussed before, environmental stewardship seems to give more benefit to the RMN.A  Since it will provide the operational benefits, a lot of things to re-consider because it will implicate manpower, skills, time and continuous commitment among the Navy People.A  Therefore, it will take some time for the RMN to adhere to the said requirement.




Long coast line gives Malaysia with prosperous coastal area full with unique and various biodiversities.A  Maritime environmental awareness has become a fundamental requirement globally in order to maintain and preserve the well being of Mother Nature.A  Malaysia as a coastal state has the right to emphasize its own customary rules so as to reduce, control and as well to prevent the pollution from continuously deteriorating into the maritime environment. Therefore, tighter environmental regulations by UNCLOS and MARPOL in the future are expected.A  Thus, the RMN has to be proactive in executing the measures in protecting its own EEZ from being polluted and at the same time adheres to the said regulations.


Total Quality Management (TQM) which has been practices by the RMN is the best solutions towards an environment compliant warship without jeopardizing required operations.A  With this tool, the Navy People are encouraged todevelop and creates light technology, which is cheaper, simple and applicable tobe used on board ships.A  However, the concept of the technology should be more focus toward environmental friendly.A  By introducing this, the RMN not only will reduce the operational cost but will contribute to environmental stewardships.

The current EarthCheck certified warships that is KD LEKIU and KD SRI INDERASAKTI is to be the benchmark and the implementation of EarthCheck certified warships are too prolonged to the remaining RMN warships.A  It is important to note that to change the mindset of the Navy People required years to develop and progress.A  Thus, the environment stewardships syllabus is to be introduced in all training centres be it cadet or recruits training centre.A  In fact, it will create awareness among the Navy People at the early stage.In developing procedures and doctrines with regards to the environment stewardships will take years tobe developed.A  It will not only conflicts time, but also man power as they need to be re-train due to the changing of procedures.A  In the other hand, the current International Standard (ISO) needs to be revised as to compliment to the evolving situations.A 

Everybody knows the important to maintenance but not everybody cares about it.A  In order to ensure all equipment onboard working without any problem, schedule maintenance must be conducted without failed.A  For example, if any of the important equipment like the main engine did not maintain properly, it will produce exhaust that had black smoke that contains more carbon than permitted according to MARPOL.A  If the oily water separator failed, the ship cannot treat their bilges as it should be and might discharge it overboard innocently.

It should be well-known that various technologies that lead to environmental conformity also generate greater cost effectiveness in the long term and may also amplify the operational efficiency.A  Apart from TQM approaches, that is why research and development (R&D) is important to the Navy.A  By doing R&D, we can develop technology such as modification onboard small ship and develop new antifouling paint in order to compliance with the environmental policy.A  We also can do Operational Research to study our existing standard operating procedures (SOP) like refilling and discharge ballast water tank in the high seas as to ensure that our environment free from pollution.

Cooperation with the other government agencies like Fisheries Department and Tourism Board is also important in order to determine sensitive and rich area in order for our marine species can be maintained protected.A  Areas like Sipadan Island and Tioman Island which are rich with natural habitats arevery much important for tourism industries. Through identifying the protected area, we can protect the environment from harmful activities such as harmful active sonar and fuel spilling that could happen when conducting naval exercise or operations in the respective area.


We do agree that there is a special immunity to warships in enforcing their operational task at sea.A  In addition, with the current alarming environmental issues, the special privileges will be no longer applicable due to the public awareness and will assume and demand that warships is no other different with other shipping industries.A  Therefore, this requires full participations of the Navy People to change their mindset in implementing environmental stewardship.A  Even though, the environmental stewardships providing more towards the operational benefits, a lot of things to re-consider because it will implicate manpower, skills, time and continuous commitment among the Navy People.A  Therefore, it will take some time for the RMN to adhere to the said requirement.

The future of this planet is depending on how we manage and counter the light of rapid degradation of the environment.A  The available evidence indicates that pollution is rising despite efforts to bring it under control.A  It is apparent that at present we are not coping well with the situation.A  To eliminate the root cause of these problems will take years to be solved.A  Hence, the corrective measures are to be implemented.A  Though a gradual but time bound implementation programme the pollution levels can be reduced, and environmental protection can be achieved.A  One of the important actions that we should embark is inculcating maritime awareness among the mariners.A  Maritime awareness should cover all the requirements of environmental rules and regulations.

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Malaysia maritime environmental issues and its impact on naval operations. (2017, Jun 26). Retrieved July 19, 2024 , from

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