Gabon has ordered two patrol vessels from French shipbuilder Piriou at the Euronaval 2014 exhibition. The latest acquisition came the same day as Gabon’s military ordered 12 Aravis armoured vehicles from France’s Nexter.
The contract was signed by Pascal Piriou, the chairman and CEO of Piriou, and Gabon’s defence minister Ernest Mpouho Epigat on October 29 in Paris.
One of the patrol vessels to be supplied by Piriou will be built new while the other will be the second hand French Navy P400 patrol vessel Tapageuse, which is being overhauled and refitted. It will be delivered in mid-2015. In December 2013 Tapageuse was acquired by Piriou Naval Services, which began refurbishing it with the view to marketing it to interested countries. Earlier this year it was reported that the Philippines was interested in acquiring the vessel for its Coast Guard.
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 new offshore patrol vessel, a 58 metre long OPV50, will be built through the Piriou-DCNS joint venture Kership partnership and delivered in mid-2016. Kership will be the primary contractor and Chantiers Piriou, a subsidiary of the Priou Group based in Concarneau, France, will build the vessel.
The OPV50 has a 360 degree view bridge, a ramp for two small boats (such as 7 metre RHIBs) and a range of 5 000 nautical miles.
As part of the contract for the vessels, French training provider DCI-NAVFCO will provide training for both vessels before they sail to Gabon. Around 50 personnel will be trained in navigation, safety, operations and the proper use of equipment.
Pascal Piriou said this first export success demonstrated the success of the alliance with DCNS, in the form of Kership, and Piriou’s capacity to supply global solutions by providing complementary ship repair and other services through Piriou Naval Services. “This strategy has allowed the Piriou Group to provide an innovative mixture of naval construction and repair, such as the solution tailored to the technical requirements, budgetary considerations and short delivery deadlines specified by the Gabonese Navy.”
Epigat said the vessel procurement was part of the on-going strategy envisaged by Gabon’s president to update and reinforce the capacity of the country’s defence and security forces. “It will allow us to protect and secure our coastal borders,” he said.
Gabon’s Navy is small and including two P400 class offshore patrol vessels, a Patra class missile boat and an Esterel type fast attack craft as well as a few smaller types.