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Iraqi Predator Class patrol craft in 2004

The Iraqi Navy is one of the components of the military of Iraq currently being reconstructed by UK-US Coalition forces in Iraq. Its primary responsibilities are the protection of Iraq's coastline and offshore assets. Initially called the Iraqi Coastal Defense Force, its official name was changed on January 12, 2005.[1]

As of February 2006, the navy has approximately 800 sailors and marines which form an Operational headquarters, two afloat squadrons, and two marine battalions [2].

Headed by Rear Admiral Muhammad Jawad, the navy had plans to build six Al Uboor-class patrol boats in Baghdad, with the first of the boats to enter service in September 2005. This project however, was ultimately canceled. Additionally, two Assad-class corvettes built for Iraq in the 1980s by Italy were originally planned to be delivered sometime around 2006-2007. The ships however, were found to be in a worse state than originally believed, forcing the Iraqi navy to reconsider the deal and instead buying 4 newer, smaller modified-Diciotti class vessels. The 5 British corvettes and 1 Soviet patrol boat operated by the Saddam-era Iraqi Navy were destroyed in the 2nd and 1st Gulf Wars respectively.

Contents

History

The Iraqi Navy was formed in 1937 as a small four-ship force headquartered in Basra. Between 1937 and 1958, it was primarily a riverine force.

Following the 14 July Revolution of 1968, the Iraqi navy began to expand. Operationally based in the port of Umm Qasr, the Persian Gulf Academy for Sea Studies was established in Basra, which offered a bachelor's degree in war and engineering naval studies. By 1988, the Iraqi Navy grew to a force of 5,000, but played a relatively small role during the 1980-1988 Iran–Iraq War.

Between 1977 and 1987, the Iraqi Navy received eight Osa class missile boats, equipped with Styx missiles, from the Soviet Union. It also purchased four Lupo class frigates and six Assad class corvettes from Italy, although these were never delivered because of international sanctions following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.[3]

The Iraqi Navy was almost completely destroyed during the Gulf War of 1991. The Iraqi Navy had 19 ships sunk and 6 vessels damaged. In total, more than 100 Iraqi ships were destroyed. The Navy was not rebuilt and played no role in the Iraq War (2003). Of the units that remained by late 2002, most were in a poor state of repair and the crews were in a poor state of readiness.[4].

Current role

At the moment, the Iraqi Navy is designed for coastal water protection; stopping the smuggling of people, oil and weapons; and to protect the country's oil platforms. As a result, the Iraqi Navy mainly needs patrol boats-these could be backed up by fast attack craft. The patrol boats need to have the ability to launch RIBs for boarding ships and also possibly be able to accommodate a helicopter which would increase its patrol capability. The Iraqi Navy is building a second Marine battalion.[5]

Naval fleet

An Iraqi patrol craft in Manama, Bahrain prior to being delivered to the Iraqi Navy
  • 5 Predator Class patrol boats
  • 4 Saettia MK4 class offshore patrol vessels (PS 701),(PS 702), (PS 703), (PS 704)
  • 1 offshore picket vessel; Al Shams[6]
  • 35 fast assault boats
  • 10 river patrol boats (PBR)
  • 1500 sailors and officers, including 800 in the Iraqi Naval Battalion (marines) who guard the platforms.

Future procurement

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Offshore Patrol Vessels

On February 15, 2006 the Iraqi Navy signed a $101 million contract with the Italian Government to provide four Saettia MK4 class Offshore-Patrol Vessels.[7][8][9]

The Saettia MK4 class is a modified Diciotti class offshore patrol boat, as originally used by the Guardia Costiera. The vessels are to be built by Fincantieri at Riva Trigoso, with modifications including increased crew capacity of 38. The contract also comprises the provision of logistical support and crew training with each crew completing a 7 week training course. In cooperation with the Marina Militare (Italian Navy), each commissioning crew is provided with a week’s bridge simulator course at the Academy in Livorno.[7]

In May 2009, the first vessel, Patrol Ship 701 named Fatah (Arabic for Victory), was handed over at the Muggiano, La Spezia shipyard. The crew hand been training since January 2009, and would now be heading for Umm Qasr, a 20 day/5,000 nautical miles journey via the Mediterranean, Suez Canal and Red Sea.[8] There, additional training will be completed, before the vessel takes over duties from the British Royal Marine patrols, who will then revert to a training role of new crew.[8] The vessels will be used to patrol the exclusive economic zone, control maritime traffic, for search and rescue and fire fighting.

Coastal Patrol Boats

On September 2009, the Iraqi Navy awarded a $181 million contract to Swiftships Shipbuilders of Morgan City, Los Angeles for the construction of 9 coastal patrol vessels[10]. The vessels are purchased under Foreign Military Sales[11]. The Iraqi Navy is expected by the end of the year to award a $109 million contract to build two 60-meter Off-Shore Support Vessels. The FMS program will contribute $82 million. The ships will provide logistical support for securing the oil platforms, to the Interceptor boats and more than 60 Fast Attack boats.

See also

References

External links


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