The Indian Coast Guard is training Mozambican Navy sailors on the operation of interceptor boats that India is donating to the southern African nation.
The training, which began on 5 November, is due to conclude on 16 November and is a result of India agreeing to donate two interceptor boats to the Mozambican Navy. Being carried out in Chennai, it is the first time Mozambican Navy officers and personnel have undergone training in India. A first batch of 14 personnel will be followed by a second batch of 14 in the first week of December.
According to the Indian Coast Guard, the Mozambican vessels will also be built by Indian firm Larsen & Toubro, which has delivered 40 of the 30 metre long fast interceptors to the Indian Coast Guard, out of a planned 54 (the company is also building seven offshore patrol boats for the Indian military).
The fast interceptors displace 90 tonnes, have a top speed of 45 knots, range of 500 nautical miles and are typically armed with machineguns. They are powered by two Caterpillar marine engines, two auxiliary generators and two waterjets for high speed performance. The aluminium-hulled vessels are crewed by a dozen sailors and are designed for surveillance, patrol, search and rescue, anti-poaching, counter-smuggling and other maritime security missions.
The Indian government is supporting the enhancement of many navies and coast guards in the region, such as the Maldives, as it aims to expand its influence and improve maritime security. In July this year India announced it would donate two Larsen & Toubro interceptor boats to the Seychelles as well as a second Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft.
India and Mozambique enjoy close defence ties, including on the naval front – India has a Joint Defence Working Group with Tanzania. In mid-2011 India and Mozambique agreed to work together to improve maritime security in the Indian Ocean, following a high level meeting between Mozambican and Indian defence ministers.
In November 2014 the Indian Navy vessel INS Teg took part in a goodwill visit to Mozambique after Exercise Ibsamar in South Africa, and in July 2017 India’s Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Sunil Lanba visited Mozambique and Tanzania to consolidate bilateral defence relations.
Mozambique has been building up its navy of late, although many of its vessels do not go out to sea, and some have been observed being stored on land. In 2013 and 2015 Mozambique ordered six HSI 32 interceptors from France’s CMN as well as three Ocean Eagle 43 trimaran patrol boats. Prior to that its Navy had several donate Namacurras, small patrol vessels and the ex-Spanish Dragonera (Pebane) patrol craft in service.