The Gambian Navy on Friday took delivery of three boats donated by the Taiwanese government, providing a major boost to the country’s small navy. Taiwan donated another four patrol boats in 2009.
Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy received the boats at the Gambia Ports Authority wharf in Banjul, on behalf of President Yahya Jammeh. After Taiwanese ambassador Samuel Chen handed over the vessels, he said the delivery was “fitting and timely for obvious reasons”.
“As a country, we will continue to ensure that our territorial waters are well-protected, together with our marine resources, and address banditry at sea as well as deter or punish the criminals,” she is quoted by local publication The Point as saying.
Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou agreed on the donation during a visit to the Gambia in April last year, to replace the four 50 ton Dvora class (called Hai Ou – Seagull – in Taiwan) fast patrol boats Taiwan donated to the country in 2009. One was seriously damaged, precipitating the donation of the new vessels. The Dvora class patrol boats will now be used for training, according to Hsu Mien-sheng, Director-General of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of African Affairs.
The eight ton vessels are 10 metres long, armed with a 12.7 mm machinegun and are powered by twin 115 horsepower outboard engines giving a top speed of 80 km/h and an endurance of two hours at full throttle. They were refurbished prior to delivery to Africa and christened GN Berre Kuntu, GN Kenyeh Kenyeh Jamango and GN Sanimentereng.
Taiwan sent a team of four instructors to train Navy personnel prior to delivery.
They are a major boost to The Gambia’s small navy, which comprises of a couple of ex-Spanish fast patrol boats and a single Peterson-type patrol boat.
The three vessels are expected to help The Gambia combat drug trafficking, smuggling, piracy, illegal fishing and other maritime threats. “We hope this will promote safety, security and freedom of the sea,” ambassador Chen said. “Defending the territorial integrity of The Gambia and creating a stable and viable economic environment promotes national development and economic growth.”
“These threats such as piracy, narcotic drugs trafficking, illegal fishing, human trafficking and smuggling of goods in the maritime environment continues to affect the security and stability of the sub-region,” said Comodore Madani Senghore, Commander of The Gambia Navy. “The nature and design of the boats would also enable us to conduct search and rescue operations in narrow channels and shallow waters,” he added.