The Italian Navy vessel Borsini is in Mozambican waters for the next two months as it trains the southern African nation’s small navy, following the signature of a maritime collaboration agreement between the two countries.
The 30th Naval Group of the Italian Navy, comprising the aircraft carrier Cavour (CVH550), frigate Bergamini (F590), patrol ship Borsini (P491) and supply ship Etna (A5326), left Italy on 13 November on a circumnavigation of the African continent. Commanded by Rear Admiral Paolo Treu, the Naval Group arrived in Maputo, Mozambique, on 27 January.
Titled “A Country on the Move”, the Naval Group is a joint Italian Navy and industry campaign involving multiple objectives, such as training, maritime security operations, confidence building, naval diplomacy, humanitarian assistance and the promotion of Italian industry.
The technical agreement for collaboration with the Mozambique Navy was signed by the Italian Chief of Navy during his visit to Maputo between 28 and 30 January.
In terms of the agreement, the Italian and the Mozambican navies will carry out naval cooperation activities in Mozambican waters for two months. In particular, training will be organized at sea and on land with specific emphasis placed on anti-piracy and patrolling in Mozambican territorial waters. Other areas of cooperative training include protection of commercial shipping, the fight against trafficking and rescue at sea.
The Italian Navy has experience with anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean, being a participant in Operation Atalanta, the European Union’s counter-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia.
As a result of the cooperation agreement, the patrol ship Borsini detached from the Naval Group on 1 February and will remain in Mozambican waters for the next two months.
Speaking to defenceWeb, Treu said that the Borsini will be helping the Mozambican Navy to grow. “It’s a small navy, so we are trying to provide them (with) our experience in maritime security operations, in particularly in anti-piracy activities and protecting the ships from terrorist attacks,” he said.
In light of the recent natural gas deposits discovered in Mozambique, Treu noted that the country has to learn how to protect its resources.
“We are there just to help them grow as a navy, providing them with our experience,” he explained. “We will show them how to perform operations (like anti-piracy patrols). If there is a real event going on, of course we could be tasked to do a real operation to fight piracy in case of need,” he continued.
The South African Navy, supported by the South African Air Force, has maintained a permanent anti-piracy patrol in the Mozambique Channel since early 2011, under Operation Copper. The frigate SAS Spioenkop is currently on station.
Having departed Maputo on 31 January, the three remaining vessels of the Naval Group arrived in Cape Town on 5 February.
Following their departure from Cape Town on 11 February, the Naval Group will continue its circumnavigation of the African continent, visiting Luanda in Angola next.
Mozambique’s small navy has only a few serviceable vessels, including two Namacurra boats (donated by South Africa), eight patrol vessels (including RHIBs) and a Conejera class patrol craft (Pebane – donated by Spain). However, last year French firm Constructions Mecaniques de Normandie (CMN) was given a $200 million contract to build three Ocean Eagle 43 patrol vessels, three HSI 32 interceptors and 24 CMN 23.5 trawlers for the Mozambican navy. Deliveries are scheduled to take place by 2016.