US to help East Africa acquire patrol boats

East African navies are interested in acquiring more vessels and US Navy Captain Nicholas Holman says the American State Department is looking at ways to provide additional Archangel patrol boats to the region.

One such SAFE Boats International 42-foot fast patrol boat (FPB) is already in service with the Kenya Navy as are five 40-foot Defender FPB.

Holman made the comments in an interview with after the US Navy`s inaugural east African Africa Partnership Station (APS) cruise.

The US Navy and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration launched the APS off west Africa in 2007 “to help African nations achieve stability and economic prosperity through civilian-military maritime mentoring as well as military-to-military training.”

Seeing the benefits of the program, “African officials on the other side of the continent asked for similar help,” reports. “This paved the way for the first APS visit to Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya this year by the [Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate] USS Robert G. Bradley.

“The naval vessel carried a team of US, European, South American and African personnel that coached personnel in three host countries on ways to combat piracy; drug, weapons, and human trafficking; and fish poaching.”

Holman noted in his interview illegal fishing is a significant problem off east Africa. “The region loses an estimated US$310 million every year because it lacks the maritime infrastructure to combat the problem.

“That is where this kind of good neighbor initiative can make a difference. Its training focuses on information sharing that will give African maritime forces a complete image of what is happening in nearby waters through a shared communication network. Hands-on training is offered to help develop a professional maritime corps that will be ready to respond to a host of potential security challenges.

He added “the goal of the effort is to improve ocean monitoring activities so that they will be on par with airspace monitoring efforts.”

Holman says this is important because some of the regional navies and coast guards do not have the capability “to do much about anything that’s going on in their waters.”