Tunisia launches another domestic patrol boat; authorises new 50 m vessel


The Tunisian Navy has received another 27 metre long locally built patrol boat, and will be getting a locally built 51 metre offshore patrol vessel after its manufacture was approved by Defence Minister Ibrahim Bartaji.

The fifth locally built Istiklal class vessel ‘Dougga’ (P214) was launched by Bartaji on 7 July at the port of Sfax. Seven vessels are being built under a partnership between the government and local private shipbuilding company Societe de Construction Industrielle et Navale (SCIN), the Tunisian Ministry of Defence said.

Also revealed by Bartaji was approval for the construction of a 51 metre long patrol vessel (Kairouan class). He said this will be a good size vessel suitable for longer patrols. Conceptual graphics of the new vessel showed it lightly armed with a remotely operated cannon/heavy machinegun, and waring pennant number PSM 401. It will have a length of 51 metres and maximum speed of 20 knots, with a cruising speed of 15 knots. Range will be approximately 2 000 nautical miles.

The Kairouan class is a major leap forward for Tunisian naval shipbuilding following experience with the Istiklal class, which goes back six years. The first vessel, Istiklal (P201), was launched in August 2015 and was followed by Utique (P211) in March 2018, Kerkouane (P212) in May 2018 and El Jem (P213) in April 2021.

The 80 ton vessels are 26.5 metres long and 5.8 metres wide. They are powered by two Rolls-Royce engines, each of which produces 3 200 horsepower, giving a top speed of 25 knots and a range of 600 nautical miles. Armament includes a 20 mm cannon and two machineguns. Accommodation is for a crew of 12 sailors. The vessels are fitted with a thermal imaging camera.

SCIN said the partnership has resulted in the development of the naval industry in Tunisia and reduces reliance on foreign imports while lowering acquisition costs.