Mandala Bhakti, the Museum of Indonesian Armed Forces

Mandala Bhakti Museum at night

Mandala Bhakti Museum at night. Photo from

This is one of the museums of Indonesian military. It’s located at Jalan Soegijapranata 1, Semarang, right in front of Tugu Muda monument, near Lawang Sewu. The building of Mandala Bhakti Museum was designed by a Dutch architect, I. Kuhr E, around 1930s. Continue Reading →

Kopaska: No Obstacle Cannot be Defeated

Kopaska: surveillance from the boatWhen you ask people about the name of Indonesian elite force, most likely the answer is Kopassus. That’s correct. But obviously, Kopassus is not the only special forces that Indonesia has. I bet you’ve heard about Kopaska too. If Kopassus is an Army, Korpaskhas is air force,  Kopaska or Komando Pasukan Katak (Frogmen Command) is a Navy. Precisely, it’s a tactical unit for underwater demolition. Continue Reading →

The Legendary and The New Dewaruci

The naval cadets on the mast“You, up! Climb the main mast!” the giant ship’s commander told a cadet.

Starred straight to that 35.9 meters high pole, the cadet’s gut was immediately shrunken. But in the military life, there is no way you can dispute your chief. So the cadet started to climb.

He made it, at last. Although it took a longer than other cadets’ time. So he’d got some punishment.

This happened decades ago on the board of Dewaruci, a legendary KRI (Kapal Perang Republik Indonesia or Republic of Indonesia Warship). The name “dewaruci” and the figurehead represent a god of truth and courage in Javanese wayang’s mythology: Dewa Rutji.

The cadet in the story is Soeparno, by the way. Now, his rank is Admiral, and his last position was the Navy Chief of Staff. Soeparno has a lot more to tell about KRI Dewaruci. Not just Soeparno, in fact. Most of Navy officials admit, a lot of remarkable stories came from the ship.

The KRI Dewaruci. The largest tall ship in Indonesian fleet. Owned and operated by the Indonesian Navy, Dewaruci is used as a sail training vessel for naval cadets. By sailing the oceans in direct, they are expected to learn the practical knowledge of astronomy, navigation, and shipping work.

What I found interesting about Dewaruci is, it has a unique program. Dewaruci so far does also serve as a goodwill ambassador for Indonesia to the world. Based in Surabaya, Dewaruci holds a mission to promote Indonesian tourism.

Some say, Dewaruci is a floating Indonesia. In every port it stops, they held the Open Ship session for local people. They held a ship tour, cocktail party, traditional art performance (performed by the cadets and ship crews), and some other cultural shows. Not to mention the marching band.

The KRI DewaruciThe ship appearance alone is interesting. With the classical exterior and lively ornaments. It’s still in a very good condition for an old ship.

Back in 1932, HC Stülcken & Sohn, a shipbuilder in Germany, begun to construct the tall ship in 1932. But it was suspended due to the outbreak of Second World War, which caused serious damage to the shipyard. Dewaruci project wasn’t finished until 1952.

Then, it launched in 1953. Its main port is in Armada Timur (Armatim) TNI-AL, Surabaya.

So, it’s been more than 60 years now. Like a human at this age, the old ship needs to end its adventure. No matter how good is its performance still, it’s time to leave Dewaruci in peace at naval museum. Say good bye to the old, legendary Dewaruci. And say welcome to the new KRI Dewaruci, the same tall ship with twice bigger space and computerized navigation system.


Old Dewaruci

New Dewaruci

Shipbuilder HC Stülcken & Sohn (Germany) Construcciones Navales Paulino Freire (Spain)
Launched January 24, 1953 2015
Status Operational Under construction
Type Barquentine Schooner
Displacement 847 tons
Length 58.3 meters 110 meters
Wide 9.5 meters
Height 36.5 meters
Draught 4.05 meters
Propulsion 1 unit 986 HP diesel, with a 4 blade propeller
Sail plan 16 sails, 1,091 square meters
Speed 10.5 knots with the engine,
9 knots under sail
Complement 81 crews, 75 cadets 80 crews, 120 cadets
Cost 52 million Euros

Source: Commando Magazine (September 2013), the official web of KRI Dewa Ruci, and Wikipedia.

Indonesian Military Terms

Military person communicates each other in specific jargonHave you noticed that the military persons always communicate each other with terms that seem deliberately complicated? Yes, they love very much acronyms and abbreviations. In Indonesia, there has been a widespread use of military acronyms and abbreviations, which facilitates an efficient communication among experts. But meanwhile, it also complicates communication with the public and the international community who are interested to such subject.

Of course, we cannot ask the military people to use common or simpler jargons, due to security reason. So, it’s us who learn their language. That’s why we need a dictionary.

Well, if you happen to like the military spirit in Indonesia, or as a writer you want to deepen understanding about that, I found a good dictionary for you. Kamus istilah-istilah militer. Not a commercial dictionary, luckily. The dictionary was composed neatly and comprehensively by Dr. Ingo Wandelt, an academic specializing in Southeast Asia affiliated with the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University, Germany.

It’s served in Indonesian and English. So, when you fancy write something with the background of Indonesian military, just start your research here.