An unnamed West African customer has ordered two 95 metre long offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) from India’s Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Company.
The contract is worth 11.92 billion rupees (US$213 million) and includes options for another two vessels, which can be exercised within 24 months. In this case the contract value may go up to 25.04 billion rupees (US$448 million).
Both vessels will be delivered in 32 months including option vessels, if exercised, Pipavav announced on August 6. Nigeria may be the source of the order as Strategic Defence Intelligence in February this year reported that Nigeria was undertaking an offshore patrol vessels contract for two vessels, to be finalised in the third quarter of this year. It is assumed that the two OPVs are in addition to the two 1 800 ton OPVs ordered by the Nigerian Navy from China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Limited on April 18 this year.
The patrol vessels will apparently be very similar to the five OPVs ordered by the Indian Navy last year. These are 110 metres long and will have a maximum speed of 24 knots. They will be armed with a 76 mm Oto-Melara guns.
The West African order is Pipavav’s first international order and the company said it is also negotiating for the construction of four corvettes with another foreign navy.
“One of the thrust areas of the company is to focus on foreign military sales to…friendly countries,” the company said.
Countries in the West African region are re-equipping their navies in an effort to deal with numerous threats, including piracy, illegal fishing, oil theft, illegal bunkering, arms smuggling and drug trafficking.
Piracy in particular is a growing problem in the Gulf of Guinea as the area, spanning a dozen countries, is a growing source of oil, cocoa and metals being shipped to the world’s markets. Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is not on the scale of that off Somalia, but analysts say an increase in scope and number of attacks in a region ill-equipped to counter the threat could affect shipping and investment. The International Maritime Bureau said attacks off Nigeria reached 10 in the first quarter of this year, which is the same number reported for the whole of 2011.
In February Ghana’s Navy commissioned four new Chinese-built patrol ships and received two ex-German Navy fast attack craft last month. Cameroon in January took delivery of three Boston Whaler patrol boats for anti-piracy operations and on January 7 the Cape Verde Coast Guard commissioned a new 51 metre long Damen Stan Patrol 5009 patrol vessel. Elsewhere in the region, on February 22, 2011, Equatorial Guinea officially took delivery of two new 62 metre offshore patrol vessels from Israel Shipyards.