In a recent announcement made on November 8 by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), an exciting development is set to unfold in the maritime security landscape of Malaysia. The MMEA is making preparations to acquire at least one retired U.S. Coast Guard cutter, known as the USCGC Decisive (WMEC 629). This strategic move marks a significant step towards enhancing maritime security capabilities and fostering collaborative relationships with friendly forces, both domestically and internationally. Rear Admiral Maritime Aminuddin Abdul Rashid, whose retirement ceremony was the backdrop for this announcement, played a pivotal role in spearheading this initiative during his tenure with the MMEA. Among his notable achievements was leading a suitability study focused on integrating the US Coast Guard cutter – USCG Decisive into the MMEA’s fleet. The decision to absorb this vessel is set to not only bolster Malaysia’s maritime capabilities but also establish broader cooperation with allied maritime forces.
The USCGC Decisive (WMEC-629) holds a distinguished history, with its keel being laid on May 12, 1967, at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore, Maryland. The cutter was officially commissioned on August 23, 1968, and over the years, it has been homeported in various locations, including New Castle, New Hampshire, St. Petersburg, Florida, Pascagoula, Mississippi, and finally, Pensacola, Florida, before being decommissioned on March 2, 2023. During the cutter’s last year of service, the sunset crew of 12 officers and 62 enlisted members conducted high profile operations including assistance in the repatriation of over 400 migrants in a week’s time while patrolling the South Florida Straits. Decisive’s crew assisted with a 200 person mass migrant transfer, the largest single repatriation effort at the time since the 1980 Mariel Boatlift.
The Medium Endurance Cutter (WMEC) category, to which USCGC Decisive belongs, comprises cutters like the 270-foot Famous-class and the 210-foot Reliance-class vessels. These vessels provide extensive accommodations for crew members to live on board and are capable of conducting patrols lasting six to eight weeks. Other notable ships in this classification include the USCGC Alex Haley, the now-decommissioned USCGC Acushnet, USCGC Storis, and USCGC Tamaroa, among others. As part of the Coast Guard’s acquisition program, the 360-foot Heritage-class offshore patrol cutters will replace the Coast Guard’s 270-foot and 210-foot medium endurance cutters. The offshore patrol cutters will provide the majority of offshore presence for the Coast Guard’s cutter fleet, bridging the capabilities of the 418-foot national security cutters, which patrol the open ocean, and the 154-foot fast response cutters, which serve closer to shore.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, often referred to as the Malaysia Coast Guard on the international stage, serves as Malaysia’s coast guard organization, responsible for maintaining law and order and coordinating search and rescue operations in the Malaysian Maritime Zone and on the high seas. As a crucial component of the Malaysian Federal Civil Agency, the MMEA reports directly to the Ministry of Home Affairs. In times of emergency, special crises, or wartime, the MMEA can be integrated under the command of the Malaysian Armed Forces. One notable aspect of the MMEA’s operations is its close partnership with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Japan Coast Guard (JCG). These collaborations have been instrumental in enhancing maritime security, search and rescue efforts, and interagency cooperation. The forthcoming integration of the USCGC Decisive (WMEC 629) into the MMEA’s fleet represents a significant stride in Malaysia’s commitment to bolstering its maritime security capabilities. This endeavor is poised to contribute to the safety and security of Malaysia’s waters and strengthen international collaboration with like-minded maritime organizations.