PACIFIC OCEAN -
The hours spent on the KD LEKIU (FFG 30) from the Royal Malaysian Navy were some that Ensign DeMatteo will never forget.
Upon arrival via ladder to the O-2 llevel, the XO and nearly half of the crew happily greeted CTTC (SW) Jordan and Ensign DeMatteo, who were then escorted to the bridge to meet the Captain.
Everyone was extremely happy to meet and interact with members of the U.S. Navy.
Upon their arrival they were in the midst of tactical maneuvering drills with USS John C. Stennis and USS Mobile Bay.
When USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) passed the LEKIU, Malaysian midshipmen performed a traditional Malaysian dance.
The final maneuver was having the ships line up abreast, with the JOHN C. STENNIS 500 yards away from the LEKIU, and the entire ship was in awe, taking hundreds of pictures.
As the carrier was pulling away, the CO and XO were sitting on the bridge, discussing how they had never been closer than five or six nautical miles away from a carrier underway, and telling members of the crew to take it in and never forget it.
The tour of the ship was brief, but had many aspects that were very interesting from a U.S. Navy Sailor’s perspective. There were many spaces that required you to take off your shoes and, as much of the crew is Muslim, there was a prayer room. In the morning and evening, instead of reveille and taps over the 1MC, they had Muslim calls to prayer. The tour concluded with a damage control drill, which had many similarities, and sailors that had many questions on differences between the two navies.
The traditional Malaysian food was interesting to the American Sailors. They did not warn of the spiciness of the food, and all had a good laugh when Ensign DeMatteo started coughing. The trip concluded with USS Mobile Bay’s (CG 53) Visit, Board, Search & Seizure boarding team boarding the KD LEKIU. The Malaysian crew was extremely excited to see the boarding team in action and one mentioned “they look like our special forces.”
The trip ended with a debrief from the Captain and Executive Officer asking how the stay was and exchanging thank you’s and fair winds and following seas. The trip was a once in a lifetime experience that Mobile Bay’s sailors will never forget.