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La montée en puissance de la Marine gabonaise (analyse CIMSEC)

La montée en puissance de la Marine gabonaise (analyse CIMSEC) | Newsletter navale |

2014 has been a significant year for African maritime forces. As the threat of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Guinea endures, many African countries have been rapidly expanding their maritime forces. Of particular interest are the procurements made by those states which are not typically counted among Africa’s leading military powers. In June 2014, small but oil-rich Equatorial Guinea unveiled a jury-rigged frigate to lead its emerging naval force. But now Equatorial Guinea’s southern neighbour, Gabon, is also looking to expand its navy.

Gabon’s coastline is substantially longer than that of Equatorial Guinea, stretching out to 885 kilometres total as compared to the latter’s 296 kilometres. But the Gabonese have long had only eight small patrol vessels and a single fast attack craft to rely upon for coastal defence. While attending the Euronaval 2014 exhibition in October, however, Gabonese officials decided to acquire two new offshore patrol vessels from France, both of which boast impressive features that should greatly expand Gabon’s maritime capabilities.

This procurement was not made on a whim. In July 2013, Gabon became the most southerly African victim of piracy when an oil tanker was hijacked off the Gabonese coast. The 24-member crew was unharmed and the tanker – minus some of its cargo – was released in Nigerian waters five days later. This experience doubtless led Gabonese officials to consider the security of the country’s coast and in particular, Port Gentil. This is one of Gabon’s most important port, through which much of Gabon’s oil and lumber exports pass amounting to roughly $6.8 billion each year.

With the emergence of Equatorial Guinea as a maritime power and Gabon’s force expansion, the security of the Gulf of Guinea’s southern end will be greatly improved. It is now the northern end of the Gulf which will require greater attention in regional efforts against piracy. In particular, the Togolese and Beninese coasts represent a gap in the defences. The Togolese Navy currently consists of two patrol boats, while Benin has turned to private military contractors to secure its main port of Cotonou. These small states lack the resources and personnel to support professional naval forces on the scale of neighbouring Nigeria or Ghana.

West African pirates have a demonstrated capacity to adapt to changing circumstances, relocating to where patrols are less frequent. In order to avoid Beninese and Togolese waters’ becoming a safe refuge for the region’s pirates, it may be necessary for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to promote joint patrols by the maritime forces of its member states. Although this certainly would not apply to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea – both are members of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) – such joint patrols could help to plug the gaps, bringing together Beninese and Nigerian vessels to patrol Benin’s coastal waters. This increased presence could serve to deter even the most determined pirates.

There are some hopeful signs that West Africa may be moving in this direction. In June 2013, an ambitious summit in Cameroon led to the adoption by the ECOWAS member states of two important documents: a Code of Conduct on Counter-Piracy Efforts, and a Memorandum of Understanding on Maritime Security. A month later, naval chiefs from thirteen West African countries gathered in the port city of Calabar, Nigeria, to further articulate a regional counter-piracy strategy and exchange best practices. This dialogue may be precisely what is needed to bring about defence sharing, or at least the intensification of joint patrols.

Paul Pryce is a Research Analyst at the NATO Council of Canada. With degrees in political science from universities in both Canada and Estonia, he has previously worked as a Research Fellow at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and an Associate Fellow at the Latvian Institute of International Affairs. His research interests are diverse and include maritime security, NATO affairs, and African regional integration.

This article originally appeared at the NATO Council of Canada and was cross-posted by permission.

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Le Gabon commande 2 patrouilleurs au chantier Piriou dont un OPV de 58 m de conception nouvelle Kership

Le Gabon commande 2 patrouilleurs au chantier Piriou dont un OPV de 58 m de conception nouvelle Kership | Newsletter navale |

Gabon has ordered two patrol vessels from French shipbuilder Piriou at the Euronaval 2014 exhibition. The latest acquisition came the same day as Gabon’s military ordered 12 Aravis armoured vehicles from France’s Nexter.
The contract was signed by Pascal Piriou, the chairman and CEO of Piriou, and Gabon’s defence minister Ernest Mpouho Epigat on October 29 in Paris.
One of the patrol vessels to be supplied by Piriou will be built new while the other will be the second hand French Navy P400 patrol vessel Tapageuse, which is being overhauled and refitted. It will be delivered in mid-2015. In December 2013 Tapageuse was acquired by Piriou Naval Services, which began refurbishing it with the view to marketing it to interested countries. Earlier this year it was reported that the Philippines was interested in acquiring the vessel for its Coast Guard.
The P400 class has an endurance of 15 days at sea and is fitted with a 2.5 tonne crane that can lift boats out of the water. Armament includes a 40 mm Bofors gun, a 20 mm F2 cannon and two AA-52 machineguns.
The new offshore patrol vessel, a 58 metre long OPV50, will be built through the Piriou-DCNS joint venture Kership partnership and delivered in mid-2016. Kership will be the primary contractor and Chantiers Piriou, a subsidiary of the Priou Group based in Concarneau, France, will build the vessel.

The OPV50 has a 360 degree view bridge, a ramp for two small boats (such as 7 metre RHIBs) and a range of 5 000 nautical miles.
As part of the contract for the vessels, French training provider DCI-NAVFCO will provide training for both vessels before they sail to Gabon. Around 50 personnel will be trained in navigation, safety, operations and the proper use of equipment.
Pascal Piriou said this first export success demonstrated the success of the alliance with DCNS, in the form of Kership, and Piriou’s capacity to supply global solutions by providing complementary ship repair and other services through Piriou Naval Services. “This strategy has allowed the Piriou Group to provide an innovative mixture of naval construction and repair, such as the solution tailored to the technical requirements, budgetary considerations and short delivery deadlines specified by the Gabonese Navy.”

Epigat said the vessel procurement was part of the on-going strategy envisaged by Gabon’s president to update and reinforce the capacity of the country’s defence and security forces. “It will allow us to protect and secure our coastal borders,” he said.

Gabon’s Navy is small and including two P400 class offshore patrol vessels, a Patra class missile boat and an Esterel type fast attack craft as well as a few smaller types.

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La Marine gabonaise va s'équiper d'affûts manuels 15A et de canons téléopérés NARWHAL de NEXTER

La Marine gabonaise va s'équiper d'affûts manuels 15A et de canons téléopérés NARWHAL de NEXTER | Newsletter navale |

The Gabonese Republic has chosen Nexter Systems to equip its four RaidCo RPB20 express-cruiser patrol boats with the 15A naval mounts, and its future ocean-going patrol boat, ordered on 29 October 2014 from the PIRIOU shipyard, with the 20mm NARWHAL® remote-controlled naval gun. These weapon systems, based on the 20 M 621 cannon, will enable the Gabonese navy to effectively combat piracy and will contribute to the protection of Gabonese national waters.

NARWHAL20 is a fully stabilized remotely controlled naval weapon station. It is the fruit of Nexter Systems innovation and expertise in medium caliber cannons, gun mounts and turrets for both fixed and rotor wing aircraft as well as for naval vessels. NARWHAL20 combines the 20mm impressive firepower and advanced electro-optical day/night sensors and is ideally suited for maritime surveillance, law enforcement and sea police interception missions for countering and neutralizing evolving threats.

According to Nexter, NARWHAL20 is the most advanced 20mm naval weapon station on the market today. Selected by the French Navy in late 2011, already integrated on Normandie Frigate by DCNS, NARWHAL20 ensures the close-in self-defense of the French FREMM Frigates. Great interest for NARWHAL20 is growing on Export markets. NARWHAL20A or NARWHAL20B, selected by End users depending on their ammunition standard (20x102mm or 20x139mm) meets the exact needs of naval Forces and is the response for countering both conventional and asymmetric threats. More than 35 units are currently in production.

At Euronaval 2014 exhibition, the Gabonese Republic signed a contract with PIRIOU for two offshore patrol vessels including an OPV50.

Offshore patrol vessel OPV50 is a versatile 58-metre ship developed by KERSHIP to undertake various missions related to State Action at Sea. OPV50's major innovations and features include very versatile design that facilitates reorganization to suit the mission; large bridge with 360° view; rapid deployment/retrieval ramp for 2 launches (7 m RHIBs); range of 5,000 nautical miles and excellent sea-keeping qualities.

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Retour sur la commande de cet OPV50 de 58m qui a été finalisée durant le salon Euronaval 2014 :

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