The Libyan Navy has taken delivery of two new patrol boats from France’s Raidco Marine, as it continues to expand its maritime capabilities and modernise its forces.
The two RPB 20 boats arrived in Libya over the weekend, according to Libyan media. One, named Janzour, is based in Benghazi while the other, named Akrma, is based at Tobruk Naval Base.
The Libyan Herald quotes Colonel Mehdi Abu-Khamada of the Benghazi Marine Base as saying that the vessels will provide protection to the country’s eastern shores.
Libya ordered the RPB 20s from Raidco Marine earlier this year. They were handed over to the Libyan Navy on April 26 in France, following which Raidco spent over a month training 32 Libyan officers and sailors and six maintenance staff.
The two boats left the port of Lorient on June 6, according to Mer et Marine, and stopped in Tangier, Morocco, and Bizerte, Tunisia, before arriving in Libya. They were each crewed by five Libyans, three Raidco staff and an interpreter.
The RPB 20 series is 20 metres long, has a top speed of 28 knots (thanks to its double-chine deep-V hull) and can launch a small boat. It has been sold to South Africa (2), Gabon (4), Guinea (3), Mauritania (2), Morocco (11), Nigeria (4), Tunisia (4) and Senegal (4). Senegal should receive its order in August.
Last month the Libyan Navy took delivery of 30 new semi-rigid-hulled inflatable fast patrol boats from French military boat maker Sillinger, the first batch of 50 ordered in January this year.
Naval Special Forces spokesman Colonel Ayoub Qassem said last month that the high-powered boats, which range between 3.5 metres and 12 metres in length, will be used for the navy’s maritime border patrols.
He said they will be deployed to various naval bases including one at the port of Ras Ijdar in the west and Al-Burdi in the restive east where they will also be used on coastguard duties, protecting vital installations as well as monitoring illegal sea-borne intrusions and landings within the country’s territorial waters.
The order for the 50 rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBS) includes the 1200 RIB UM Inboard, designed for the high seas. Libya is the second customer for this new model.
The 1200 RIB UM is one of the largest and most advanced of Sillinger’s military offerings and is able to carry up to 25 people. Weapons options include a 7.62 or 5.56 mm gun on each side and a 12.7 mm machinegun on the front. Armour can be retrofitted to the sides of the boat. According to information from Sillinger, the 1200 RIB carries radar and infra-red cameras which make it easier for the boat to navigate rough seas in all types of weather. Powered by two 370 horsepower engines, the 1200 RIB UM Inboard weighs 3 900 kg.
Sillinger boats are widely used by French Navy commandos and the French Customs, particularly the 580 RIB UM, a boat designed for open sea surveillance or insertion operations.
Qassem said the Libyan Navy, which is still struggling to rebuild its capacities following the revolution which ousted Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011, is shortly expecting delivery of 25 patrol boats from South Korea. He said that Libya’s navy received Dutch-made patrol craft earlier in the year.