Malawi President Peter Mutharika on 21 August presided over the commissioning of patrol vessels that he said would help boost the operations of the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Maritime Unit.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony of two patrol vessels and four high speed interceptors at Mangochi, Mutharika said he was determined to ensure that MDF is well equipped to defend the country.
“Today marks another milestone in the history of Malawi, especially MDF with the commissioning of these state-of-the-art warships. Our soldiers are among the best in the world. I am proud of them because of their discipline and professionalism and my government will continue in ensuring that they are well equipped. These new warships will boost the capabilities of MDF maritime force,” Mutharika said.
The vessels were supplied by China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO), with the Vice President of NORINCO, Zheng Yi, attending the commissioning ceremony. The two patrol vessels are named SMR Mutharika (after the president) and SMR Muluzi after the first Commander–in-Chief of the MDF in the multiparty dispensation.
The high speed interceptor boats have been named after four Commanders of the MDF, namely General Melvin Khanga (SMR Khanga), General Isaac Yohane (SMR Yohane), General Dismas Maulana (SMR Maulana) and General Manken Chigawa (SMR Chigawa).
Speaking earlier Malawi Deputy Defence Minister Chipiliro Mpinganjira hailed the government for buying the equipment from China.
Army General Vincent Nundwe said the vessels would go a long way in helping boost the operations of MDF. “These vessels are ready to sail on Lake Malawi and safeguard the nation,” Nundwe said. He added that the vessels would be used for search and rescue, coastal patrols, VIP escort and humanitarian relief, amongst others.
The Malawi Defence Force’s maritime unit was established in 1978 with two boats and one landing craft. In 2013 it took delivery of seven new Guardian BR850 interceptor boats from Nautic Africa, which were deployed on Lake Malawi.
The Malawi Defence Force’s maritime wing has only a few patrol boats in its inventory, including a couple of armed launches, a dozen Zodiacs and several small patrol craft, including two Namacurras donated by the South African Navy.