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State upgrades Navy fleet as security challenges mount

MY RIDE
By | August 18th 2011

By Philip Mwakio

The Government is confident it will hammer out a deal that will end the stalemate over a Kenya Navy warship holed up at a Spanish shipyard.

Speaking at the Kenya Navy headquarters, Mtongwe, Mombasa on Tuesday, Defence Minister, Yusuf Haji said the Attorney General and the Minister for Finance are expected to spearhead financial acquisition.

"Negotiations are ongoing and we hope to finalise everything in the very near future," the Minister said.

The ship, christened KNS Jasiri, is an offshore patrol craft that was ordered in 2003 at a cost of Sh4.1 billion, and was due for delivery in 2005.

KNS Nyayo arriving at the port of Mombasa. The ship has been in Italy, where it underwent a complete upgrade. [PHOTO: OMONDI ONYANGO/ STANDARD]

But a contractual dispute between the Government and the main contractor Euromarine (with Spanish ship builder Astilleros Gondan ) has delayed the ship’s delivery to the Navy.

The ship is expected to give the Navy ability to operate at the extremities of the Indian Ocean continental shelf.

Haji was speaking after officiating at the arrival of two Kenya Navy ships – fast patrol crafts KNS Nyayo and KNS Umoja – which had gone for a complete upgrade in Italy.

Italian shipbuilder, Fincantieri carried out the exercise saw almost one third of structures on each ship replaced.

Haji thanked the Government for providing the funds needed for the exercise and said that with the two ships, the Kenya Navy was now capable of conducting its core mandate of protecting Kenyan seawaters against any forms of external aggression.

Big bother

" We know that for along time piracy threats along the Indian Ocean have been a big bother. Our Navy has remained robust despite the many constraints facing it in their bid to make our wars free of piracy," he said.

He added that one month ago, the Kenya Navy took delivery of another vessel, KNS Harambee in efforts geared towards boosting its fleet.

" This is in line with the Ministry’s desire to have Kenya Navy well equipped to face current maritime challenges," he said.

Chief of Defence Forces, General Julius Karangi said that military was always prepared to guard its territory against the enemy.

"If there are any maritime enemies to Kenya, let them be forwarned,’’ the CDF said.

Present during the ceremony were Kenya Navy Commander Major General Mukala Ngewa, Deputy Navy Commander, Brigadier John Waweru, and other senior military officers and relatives of sailors onboard the two ships.

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