The Cameroonian Navy plans to acquire two American-made 110-foot type patrol boats this year in order to bolster the country’s ability to effectively secure its rugged maritime space, a statement from the United States Embassy in Yaounde has revealed.
Cameroon’s defence ministry has budgeted XAF 244 billion ($413.5 million) as its defence spending for 2020, with a significant chunk of the money dedicated to fighting growing insecurity along the country’s long maritime coastline.
Maritime security is a major challenge in the Gulf of Guinea (where Cameroon belongs) with an alarming rate of piracy incidents registered in 2019.
The acquisition of the 110-foot type vessels will add to several Defender class rigid hull boats which the United States provided to the Cameroonian military in the course of 2017 to enhance its maritime patrols.
One of the defender boats, according to the US Embassy statement, was used in an August 2019 rescue operation that saved the lives of 100 shipwreck victims after a boat coming from Nigeria capsized near Limbe, a major coastal city in Cameroon’s South West Region.
“Over the years, the US has provided significant security assistance to Cameroon to achieve our mutual goals in maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, countering violent extremism in the north, and supporting regional initiatives,” part of the press statement dated 21 January reads.
The embassy recalled that in 2016, as part of its continuous efforts in supporting maritime security moves in the Gulf of Guinea, the United States funded the creation of six Maritime Operations Centres in the cities of Limbe, Douala and Kribi, that enable Naval operations at sea. “We will continue to provide maintenance and training for this centres this year,” said the Embassy.
Meanwhile, the United States has said it is working to broaden and mature its military ties with Cameroon, despite some of the military assistance having been withdrawn last year due to reports to rights abuses by the Cameroon military. For example, the Djiboutian navy is to receive four American-built military patrol boats originally intended for the Cameroonian military.
The Embassy also announced that the US started, in January 2020, its one year secretariat of the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea Group, which is a group that coordinates the support of international partners for the maritime security standards agreed upon by West and Central African heads of state at a summit in Yaounde in 2013. “We are proud to support Cameroon and the Gulf of Guinea region this year in our role leading the G7++ Friends of Gulf of Guinea Group,” the statement added.