The Tunisian National Guard and Navy have almost finished taking delivery of 12 patrol boats donated by the Italian government in its attempt to curb the flow of immigrants from North Africa.
The boats are being supplied in terms of an inter-governmental deal signed in April 2011 in which the Italian government pledged to build and supply patrol boats to Tunisia for use in border control and anti-immigration patrols. This followed a massive influx of African immigrants landing on Italian shores after launching from Tunisian ports.
In terms of the deal, Italy is supplying six P270TN patrol boats for the Tunisian Navy and six P350TNs for the National Guard, all of them built by Cantiere Naval Vittoria (CNV) in Adria.
CNV chairman Luigi Duo told IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly that five P350TNs and three P270TNs have been delivered, with the first being supplied in December 2012. Another two P270TNs will be delivered by October while the remaining P350TN and P270TN (originally options) will be delivered by February 2015.
The first P270TN, Joumhouria (P 202), was handed over to the Tunisian Navy in July last year but only arrived at its home port of La Goulette near Bizerte that September. P270TNs El Jala (P 203) and Remada (P 204) were handed over on 12 June this year at La Goulette and replaced French 31.45 m, 80 tonne Istiqlal-class patrol boats of the same name, according to IHS Janes.
The ‘Patrouilleur Class’ patrol boats are based on the P350 project design used by the Libyan Coast Guard. With a 140-tonne full displacement, a 35 m length, and a 7.2 m beam, the new patrol vessels are built of aluminium and feature a propulsion system based on two shafts, with one 3120 kW MTU 16V4000 M93 diesel engine and two Rolls-Royce Kamewa 63 S3 NP hydrojets, offering a maximum speed of over 38 knots, a range of 600 nautical miles and an endurance of five to six days.
Each of the patrol boats accommodates a crew of 16 and features integrated command, control and navigation suites including satellite and radio links and Simrad and Furuno radars, which were provided by Italian company AlmavivA. They can be equipped with guns of up to 30 mm calibre.
The P270TN model has a length of 27 m, a beam of 7.2 m, a full-load displacement of around 90 tonnes, and a crew of 14. It is propelled by a waterjet propulsion system using a Kamewa Rolls-Royce 40A3 and two Kamewa Rolls-Royce 50A3 waterjets, each driven by an MTU 12V2000M84 engine giving a range of 500 nautical miles.
Command, control, communications, and navigation system includes Simrad and Spery Marine radars, an electro-optical sensor and satellite communications.
Italy in May 2011 delivered four Cantieri Navali del Golfo (CNG) Carabinieri Classe 700 patrol boats to the National Guard. Between 2009 and 2011 Italy refitted seven of the National Guard’s 17 m patrol boats and eight Squalo/P58-class patrol boats and transferred two 500 Classe patrol boats, 13 radar sets for patrol boats, and 38 marine engines, according to IHS Janes.
The patrol boats will boost the Tunisian National Guard’s capacity to conduct counter-piracy, anti-smuggling and human trafficking patrols and will play an instrumental role in patrolling Tunisia’s 1 148 kilometre coastline.
African migrants frequently try to reach Europe from the coasts of Tunisia and Libya – in February the Tunisian Navy rescued 100 African migrants after their vessel started taking on water. Earlier this month Spanish emergency services picked up nearly 700 African immigrants travelling across the Mediterranean.