Kenya in collaboration to combat piracy

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Kenya

Mohamed Ahmed |

Kenya is collaborating with India, Denmark and France among other countries to boost surveillance in the Indian Ocean and curb piracy. Following the cooperation, Indian naval ship INS Tarkash visited Mombasa port from July 4 to 6. INS Tarkash, a front-line frigate of the Indian Navy that entered service in 2012, is on a routine deployment in the region. The ship is equipped with state-of-the-art weapons and sensors to counter air, surface and underwater threats.

Upon arrival in Mombasa, the ship’s commanding officer paid a courtesy call on Kenya Navy Commander Major General Levi Mghalu at the Mtongwe base. Later, Kenya Navy personnel visited the ship for professional interaction. The team had an overview of various activities undertaken on board. The ship’s crew also provided a demonstration of the procedures followed duringthe intervention of suspected vessels on high seas.

A team from the ship also visited naval facilities at the Kenya Navy Base, including the Kenya Navy Training School and the newly installed bridge simulator. The Indian High Commission said the visit was meant to enhance professional interaction between the two navies. On departure, INS Tarkash carried out a passage exercise with Kenya Navy ship Jasiri off the Mombasa coast. The two vessels carried out ship maneuvers and communication procedures.

This was the second successive exercise by the two navies. The maiden exercise was in September 2016 during a visit by the Indian Navy’s Western Fleet to Mombasa. India and Kenya share bilateral relations including defence co-operation. Recent months have seen enhanced defence engagements including the first ever visit of India’s defence secretary to Kenya in January, followed by the official visit of Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo to India in June, the first ever local Defence CS to visit the country.

During the visit, the two navies concluded an MoU on sharing of unclassified shipping information aimed at improving maritime security in the region. The port call by INS Tarkash was aimed at promoting professional engagement between the two navies towards better inter-operability and enhancing maritime security in the region.

In June, efforts to improve maritime security got a major boost when the Danish government donated a Sh362 million ship simulator to the Kenyan navy. The simulator is a training system that imitates the environment on a ship at sea. The system is the only one in East Africa. The simulator was officially commissioned by Denmark Chief of Navy Rear Admiral Torben Mikkelsen jointly with his host Major-General Mghalu at the Mtongwe Navy Base.

Maj-Gen Mghalu said the simulator will help train more navy officers who will help in securing the blue economy. About 1, 800 students graduate from the navy school annually. The simulator will also be used as a training facility for International Maritime Organisation model courses such as safety, security, search and rescue, and seamanship navigation. “In harnessing the blue economy this state-of-the-art facilities will enable us to carry out requisite training of our officers, thus improving our multi-agency operations.

“The security of our maritime domain requires capable platforms,” said Mr Mghalu. Kenya’s sea territory faces security threats including piracy and armed robbery, maritime terrorism, illicit trade in crude oil, as well as arms, drugs and human trafficking. The navy commander said the facilities and continued collaboration with international partners will boost the security of the Indian Ocean.

“Securing our territorial waters will remain key in our priorities to ensure the country gets the development it desires,” he said. Rear Admiral Mikkelsen said Denmark will assist in providing knowledge about the simulator and offer various training exercises for officers. “Kenya has the ambition of making its sea a maritime centre of excellence and for that reason we will continue working in collaboration with them,” he said.

The two governments pledged to deepen their partnership in enhancing the security of the sea. Defence principal secretary Saitoti Torome said well trained officers are needed to protect Kenyan seas. “We will also be able to overcome the challenge of piracy when our officers are able to enhance the security of our blue economy. “The government is committed to securing the oceans as we will continue engaging reliable partners in the process,” said Mr Torome.

Development of the blue economy is part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda for his final term in office. A French ship also docked at Mombasa port during its surveillance of the sea. Nivose F 732 is the fourth surveillance ship since the French revolution. Speaking at a Press conference at Governor Ali Joho’s office, Captain Pierre Lucas said their main mission was to ensure security overseas.

Mr Lucas said that piracy had reduced, adding that beside ensuring security overseas they were obliged to assist ships in need. “Incidents of piracy in the Indian Ocean are not as many as before,” said Mr Lucas. Nivose F 732 is named after Nivose: the fourth month of the French revolutionary calendar extending from December 22 to January 20. Mr Lucas said that most countries including Kenya have supported their mission of surveillance in the Indian Ocean.

Courtesy: Business Daily Africa