First Israeli offshore patrol vessel for Cote d’Ivoire arrives home

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Cote d’Ivoire has ordered two OPV-45 offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) from Israel and the first of these has been completed and has just arrived home.

In December 2020, Israel Shipyards began construction of two OPV-45 offshore patrol vessels for Cote d’Ivoire. At the time, Israel Shipyards did not reveal who the customer was, only saying the vessels would be delivered in the next two years.

The first vessel, Esperance (P2202), departed Haifa, Israel, on 10 February and was seen in Malta on the 13th, Las Palmas on the 20th, and Dakar, Senegal, on the 26th. She arrived in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, on 6 March, according to ship tracking data.

The OPV-45 design was launched at the IMDEX show in May 2019 as a cost-effective solution mainly for the export market, especially in the Asia-Pacific, Africa and South America. In September 2019 Israel Shipyards said it had sold two OPV-45s but did not announce the customer, but later announced a sale in the Gulf of Guinea region. The agreement includes ongoing support and training as well as the creation of a maintenance programme within the framework of the company’s Integration Logistic Support (ILS) services.

The OPV-45 design is 45.7 metres long, has a beam of 8.6 metres and displacement of 300 tons. It can accommodate between 16 and 21 crew, and has additional berth for up to 24 personnel. The vessel can carry a 7.2 metre rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) in an automated launch-and-recovery system on the aft deck, which can also take 20 foot containerised modules for different missions.

Weapons options include stabilised naval gun systems of up to 30 mm on the foredeck and 12.7 mm machineguns elsewhere on the vessel. Israel Shipyards said the African customer’s vessels will be equipped with day/night observation systems as well as stabilized weapon systems, both Israeli-made.

It has been reported that MAN will provide the engines for the vessels under a contract for two MAN 16V175D-MM engines rated at 2 960 kW, as well as ALPHA FPP propellers with struts and Alphatronic 3000 propulsion control systems. The ships will be able to reach a top speed of 24 knots and an endurance of 3 000 nautical miles at 12 knots.

The OPV-45 has been designed for a wide range of naval, para-military and homeland security missions, including open sea patrol and surveillance, the protection of facilities and exclusive economic zones, anti-terror/smuggling/illegal activity interdiction, intervention force boarding/landing, close-range naval combat operations, and enhanced search and rescue missions. The OPV 45 can also be equipped for minimizing illegal immigration transits, fishing protection and control, and anti-pollution activities.

Cote d’Ivoire will also be receiving a single P400 patrol vessel as it overhauls and expands its navy. This was revealed by Vice Admiral N’Guessan Kouamé Célestin, Chief of Staff of the Ivory Coast Navy, in April 2022.

The P400 is most likely an ex-French naval vessel – the P400 class has an endurance of 15 days at sea and is fitted with a 2.5 tonne crane that can lift boats out of the water. Armament includes a 40 mm Bofors gun, a 20 mm F2 cannon and two AA-52 machineguns. The class was acquired by France in the early 1980s and subsequently retired. P400s have been sold to Kenya and Gabon.