Veteran seafaring Dutchman

Captain G.F.Leibbrandt, click to enlarge

Captain Gotlieb Frederik Leibbrandt

EXCEPT for his appearance and slight accent, Captain Gotlieb Frederik Leibbrandt is very much like your average Malaysian.
Although he is a foreigner living in Malaysia, the company consultant and advisor of Inai Kiara Sdn Bhd, a specialist dredging firm, is a familiar face among the local seafaring community. 

As he himself says, "I was born in the Far East, educated in the West, my brain is ready for the whole world, but my heart is in Malaysia." 
The 60 year-old Dutchman, who was born in Indonesia, has been away from Holland since the mid-sixties and has become accustomed to the Malaysian way of life. 
The R's in his sentences are more pronounced than the rest of us but his English is punctuated with the occasional 'lah'. 
Besides English, he speaks six other languages including Bahasa Melayu, French, German, Dutch, Spanish and Danish. 
"I picked up the languages when I travelled around the world during my 36 years at sea," he said, adding he could count the number of countries with coastlines that he had not gone to in one hand. 

Leibbrandt's late father, E.M.A. Leibbrandt was formerly the Head of the Housing Department in Jakarta, Indonesia. 
He was also a telegraphist in a 'light vessel' (an anchored ship which performs the same function as a light house) in Holland. 

Perhaps Leibbrandt's love for Malaysia first started when he joined Malaysia International Shipping Corporation (MISC) in 1980 as captain of the Rimba Ramin
"I had obtained my extra Masters in Rotterdam, and went to an international recruiting office and was told of a vacancy in MISC.  "I thought about it for five minutes and accepted the job," he recalled. 

If there was such a thing as a bulk carrier specialist captain, Leibbrandt would fit the bill perfectly. His 16 years with MISC was spent commanding bulk carriers. 
"I prefer tramping compared to the liner trade as it is more challenging. 
"When you are the master of a carrier, it is like wearing three caps on one head; one for the company, one for the charterer and one for the cargo owners," he said. 

Having been a captain with MISC, Leibbrandt says he has trained many local seafarers, many of whom he says are now doing well for themselves. 
"They still feel I am one of them and are always willing to help in any way they can, and I in turn, offer assistance where I can, such as in the Malaysian Maritime Institute, of which I am a member," he said. 

Leibbrandt joined Inai Kiara slightly more than a year ago at the invitation of the firm's managing director Capt Gulzar Mohamad, who was his former colleague in MISC. 
"Although I am 60 age doesn't say anything and I constantly want to learn and upgrade myself, be it about dredging or computers." 

After sailing for 36 years, Leibbrandt has had his fair share of exciting experiences and fond memories at sea. 
He particularly remembers the times he sailed through ice and in between small icebergs (known as growlers) near Canada with zero visibility. 
On such occasions, he said, even the most skilled and experienced captain had to rely on modern electronic navigation equipment for assistance. 
"Another exciting moment was when we were hit by the Killer Ellen thypoon in Hong Kong." 
Thankfully, throughout his seafaring career, Leibbrandt never encountered a pirate attack and he has always emphasised on safety and planning to ensure a safe passageway. 

"The only thing which is Dutch about me is my passport which I keep locked in a drawer in my office," he jests. 
"I am so used to life here and when I went to Holland in March, I only stayed for two weeks. I found the weather too cold. 
"I came here because I knew that this was where opportunity and the challenge is. 
"My involvement in MISC and in Inai Kiara is my way of contributing my expertise and experience to the country," he said. 

back to top By Nathaniel Xavier