Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete has commissioned into service two new warships supplied by China’s Poly Technologies.
The vessels, TNS Mwitongo (P77) and TNS Msoga (P78), were commissioned on April 28 at Kigamboni Command’s base in Dar es Salaam. Kikwete said strengthening the navy’s capabilities was important in light of maritime crime such as illegal fishing and piracy. “Commissioning of these two patrol ships has come at the right time following the increase of crimes like illegal fishing and piracy. We need to strengthen our forces to safeguard our natural resources,” the president said.
“There are big ships from developed countries, which are stealing lucrative fishes like tuna in our waters. In the recent past we had 28 piracy incidents in our waters and in five accounts the pirates hijacked the ships. They even attacked an exploration ship but our soldiers managed to apprehend them…but with these two ships we can now confidently and quickly intervene in all those threats.
“They are very expensive, but there is no alternative, protecting our territorial sovereignty is a costly endeavour. This is only the beginning, we have plans to bring in even bigger ships, and now the remaining part is mobilizing funds,” said Kikwete of the new vessels.
Defence minister Dr Hussein Mwinyi thankejd the Republic of China for its continued support to the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF), in particular Navy Command, saying that military cooperation went back to 1971 when China provided 13 naval vessels to Tanzania, reports The Citizen.
At the moment Tanzania has a relatively small navy with four Huchuan class torpedo boats, two Ngunguri class vessels, two Shanghai II class patrol craft, two 27 foot Defender type patrol boats and two Yuchin class landing craft.
China and Tanzania enjoy good military relations – a notable highlight of its defence ties was in November 2014 when the two countries concluded a month-long naval exercise, their first joint training exercise in the history of bilateral military relations.
Tanzanian has emerged as a key ally to the Chinese navy as it intensifies partnerships and operational deployments in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and conducts anti-piracy patrols in the area. In December 2013 the 15th Chinese naval task force charged with escorting ships and patrolling for pirates visited Dar es Salaam on its way back to China.
China’s strong relationship with Tanzanian can be seen in its support for the military. China has recently sold the East African country 24 Type 63A light amphibious tanks, 12 Type 07PA 120 mm self-propelled mortars, FB-6A mobile short-range air defence systems and A100 300 mm multiple rocket launchers. This follows military hardware delivered earlier in the decade, including tanks, armoured personnel carriers and combat aircraft.
In recent years Tanzania has received from China 30 Type-59G tanks, 14 F-7MG fighter aircraft, six K-8 trainer jets, ten WZ-551 armoured personnel carriers, 100 FN-6 surface-to-air missiles and ten Type-63A light tanks.
The Chinese government also built the Tanzanian Military Academy (TMA) and the Shanghai Construction Group has been contracted by the Tanzanian Ministry of Defence and National Service to construct 12 000 housing units financed by a $550 million loan from the Exim Bank of China.