KLANG, "The sea and the ship have become our second home," says Lt Commander Mohd Asri Zahari, the commanding officer of the Maritime Vessel (KM) Bagan Datuk. Having served for almost eight years with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), Mohd Asri said that while others celebrated festivities such as Aidilfitri with family members, he and the crew of KM Bagan Datuk would remain steadfast, patrolling the country's waters to curb criminal activities. The father of two said the challenges of observing pre-dawn meals, breaking fast, or celebrating Raya on board the ship did not distract the crew's focus on carrying out their duties and responsibilities, with the camaraderie established among them also serving as a source of strength to stay motivated during their missions. "This has become part of our lives, and each member has been instilled with a sense of responsibility towards the country and our families. At sea, our focus is solely on our mission, while when we return to shore, we dedicate our time fully to our families. "For us, fasting or celebrating Aidilftiri on the ship or at home is no different, maybe just the environment, and we have to always be on guard against the threat of the enemy trying to disrupt the security or order of the country's waters and the local community," he said when met recently. This year, Mohd Asri and his team will once again be at sea during Aidilfitri as they are part of the special operation codenamed 'Op Khas Pagar Laut' to curb and combat cross-border criminal activities from March 12 to April 30. KM Bagan Datuk is one of the two patrol vessels assigned to monitor the waters of Selangor, with a crew strength of 20 to 30 individuals on each voyage. Sharing the sentiment is Maritime Second Leftenant Hanis Nabilah Mohd Faiz, the Assistant Operations Officer of KM Bagan Datuk, who says she does not regret being away from her husband and family during the assignment, and is grateful to have a partner who understands her role as a security enforcement officer . The Melaka native, who completed her training last year, acknowledged that the main challenge was managing her emotions to ensure they did not interfere with her duties. "It is indeed challenging because we deal with our own emotions, and it can be a bit sad because we have to work when others are enjoying, gathering with family. But regardless of the challenges, the mission must continue, and I, along with other crew members and officers, will carry out this responsibility with full dedication and sincerity," she said. The ship's cook, First Seaman Mohammad Nasaruddin Abdul Talip said that every Aidilfitri, it was his duty to prepare meals to ensure that all the ship's crew remain energised and motivated to carry out their duties. He said that among the favorite menus were biryani and 'nasi minyak' served with other dishes such as rendang, 'lemang' and 'nasi impit' to enliven the festive atmosphere. "The challenging part is managing emotions, because while others are celebrating (with loved ones), we are in the middle of the sea... but when you think about it as a responsibility, then you have to fulfill it," he said, adding that there was a unique joy in celebrating Raya on board with colleagues. Source: BERNAMA News Agency