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China begins construction of Mauritanian landing ship

China has launched construction of a Mauritanian landing vessel.China’s Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group has begun construction of a 1 750 tonne landing ship for Mauritania after the vessel was ordered in March last year.

A ceremony to launch construction was held on 9 November and was attended by Isselkou Ould Cheik el-Weli, Chief of Staff of the Mauritanian Navy and Yang Zhigang, chairman of CSIC's Wuchang Group. He said the vessel will be delivered to Mauritania by the end of 2018.

A banner displayed at the launch ceremony showed the vessel equipped with a rear helicopter deck, a 76 mm main gun, and two landing craft on davits.

Mauritania ordered the vessel in early March 2016 through a contract with Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group and Poly Technologies. The vessel is designed for maritime surveillance and patrols, oil spill mitigation, transport and search and rescue.

Mauritania has acquired naval vessels from China before, such as the Limam el-Hadrami (P 601), a 63 metre patrol boat received in 2002.

In May 2016 Mauritania commissioned into service two Chinese offshore patrol vessels for surveillance and the prevention of illegal fishing, piracy, and trafficking. They are named Gorgol (P 632) and Timbedra (P 631) after two regions in the country. The 63 metre long, 480 ton vessels cost $42 million and were bought with government funds, according to the official AMI press agency.

The Mauritanian Navy is believed to have 13 vessels and 700 personnel, out of 6 000 members of the country’s armed forces.