The United States has handed over the last six Metal Shark patrol boats to the Kenyan Navy, bringing the total number delivered to ten.
The US Embassy in Kenya on 27 February said the boats are worth 500 million Shillings ($4.9 million) and were delivered to the Kenyan Navy in Mombasa. “The 10 Metal Shark boats represent the largest US maritime security cooperation program in sub-Saharan Africa. The United States values the Kenyan commitment to building a more peaceful and secure Kenya and East Africa region,” the US Embassy said.
The boats are 33 foot (10 metre) Relentless models, which are powered by twin outboard motors. Metal Shark said the model has been designed to be manoeuvrable, fast and smooth in choppy waters. Standard seating is for two crew, but up to nine people can be carried.
During the handover, US Ambassador to Kenya Robert F Godec said, “Today we reaffirm that the United States is and will remain your steadfast partner in the fight against terrorism and extremism. We are pleased today to make this important contribution to Kenyan and regional security and look forward to the excellent work the Kenya Navy will do with these vessels. The Metal Sharks will bolster the Kenya Navy’s capacity to combat al-Shabaab, an effort that will bring about a more stable and peaceful East Africa.”
The Metal Shark boats will be used to enhance Kenya Navy’s Maritime Domain Awareness capability and support the Kenyan Blue Economy. The will bolster the Kenya Navy’s capability to deploy Kenyan Rangers and other quick reaction forces from the sea, and to patrol and defend the more than 500 km maritime border. They will help the Kenya Navy, and KDF at large, to continue forward in the fight against terrorism, the Embassy said.
The US Navy has partnered with Kenya for over 40 years and since 2003, the US Department of Defense has provided the Kenya Navy with over 1.7 billion Kenyan shillings ($16.6 million) of hardware assistance and equipment training; 300 million Kenyan shillings ($3 million) of professional development; and 100 million Kenyan shillings ($980 000) of maintenance upgrades for naval equipment.
The US military previously donated several Metal Shark boats to Cabo Verde and Senegal to enhance maritime security and combat drug trafficking. Two 38 foot (11.5 m) Defiant class patrol boats were handed over to the Senegalese Navy on 8 February 2018 and five 21 foot Relentless class patrol boats were delivered to the Cabo Verde Maritime Police in December 2017. The US will donate more boats to both countries over the next two years.