The Mauritanian Navy has commissioned into service two new offshore patrol boats from China as part of efforts to bolster maritime security in the North African nation.
President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz commissioned the vessels at the Nouadhibou naval base on 25 May, saying they would be used for surveillance and the prevention of illegal fishing, piracy, and trafficking. They were named Gorgol (P 632) and Timbedra (P 631) after two regions in the country.
The 63 metre long, 480 ton vessels cost $42 million and were bought with government funds, according to the official AMI press agency.
Defence minister Mamadou Bathia Diallo said the vessels would improve Mauritania’s border security, with the Navy being able to face any threat from the sea.
AMI reported that the Mauritanian Navy has 13 vessels and 700 personnel, out of 6 000 members of the country’s armed forces.
The patrol boats have a rear ramp for launching and recovering a rigid-hull inflatable boat. According to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, the patrol boats are armed with a single-barrel version of the 35 mm Rheinmetall GDF twin anti-aircraft gun built in China as the Type 90. They are similar to Limam el-Hadrami (P 601), a 63 metre patrol boat Mauritania received from China in 2002.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the two patrol boats were ordered in 2014.