Cameroon has taken delivery of three new Boston Whaler patrol boats from the United States as it counters the threat of piracy and lawlessness in its waters. Cameroon’s navy evaluated the vessels at a presentation ceremony on Friday.
Officials told the Cameroon Post that the three new Boston Whalers were bought from the United States at an undisclosed cost. The purchase, according to senior officials at the Douala Naval Base, followed advice from high-ranking US marine security experts.
Commander Alain Patrick Sima, mechanical engineer at the Douala Naval Base, said that, “previously, the U.S. has helped us train personnel in various fields including the modes of operation of the pirates. They have donated equipment, including radars for surveillance. Now, we can say we are at the final phase of our war against the pirates which is the acquisition of appropriate material to boost our efforts.”
Indeed, in September 2008 Cameroon’s navy received two 7-meter Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB) from the United States, equipped with twin 150 hp engines, a .50 cal gun mount, a GPS receiver, a VHF radio, and a transport trailer. The boats were delivered after two weeks of training between the U.S and Cameroonian armed forces on operation and basic maintenance of the boats.
Sima said that the Boston Whalers are equipped with 300 hp four-stroke Yamaha V6 outboard engines, three machineguns each, electronic navigation systems and infrared cameras for night operations.
The boats have been named Justice I, II and III. Two will be stationed at the Douala Naval Base and one will be stationed at the Kribi Naval Base, the Cameroon Post reports.
According to the IISS’s The Military Balance 2011, Cameroon’s Navy comprises of eleven coastal combatant and patrol vessels, and two utility landing craft. The service has modernised and increased its capabilities over the last decade, beginning with the the acquisition of a number of small Rodman patrol craft.
Jane’s estimates naval strength at two combat patrol vessels, and approximately 40 smaller coastal, inshore and riverine patrol craft allocated to both the navy and the local gendarmerie. These include two 135 tonne Yunnan-class landing craft, which are able to carry and launch smaller craft for troop insertions.
Navies in West Africa are building up their capabilities as pirate activity and drug trafficking increase in the Gulf of Guinea region. On January 7 the Cape Verde Coast Guard commissioned a new 51 metre long Damen Stan Patrol 5009 patrol vessel.
In February last year Israel Shipyard Ltd (ISL) delivered two 62 metre offshore patrol vessels, Kie-Ntem and Litoral, to Equatorial Guinea’s small navy while in October Ghana’s navy took delivery of four new Chinese-built patrol ships for combating piracy and increasing maritime security in its territorial waters.
In July 2010 Jane’s reported that Ghana’s navy plans to acquire ten new vessels over the next two years and in January last year it commissioned a refurbished Sea Dolphin-class fast-attack craft donated by South Korea.
Over the last four years Ghana has received a dozen new boats, most from the US government. Meanwhile, late last year the Nigerian Navy received the former US Coast Guard Cutter Chase (WHEC-718). The Hamilton class was renamed NNS Thunder. Nigeria’s Navy is seeking government approval to acquire up to 49 ships and 42 helicopters over the next ten years to police the nation’s territorial waterways and Gulf of Guinea. It has already acquired dozens of small boats for such duties.