The Libyan Navy has taken delivery of 30 new semi-rigid-hulled inflatable fast patrol boats from French military boat maker Sillinger, the first batch of 50 ordered in January this year.
According to the Libya Herald, the Libyan Special Naval Forces showcased seven of the new boats during a high-speed display at the naval harbour in Tripoli on Monday.
Naval Special Forces spokesman Colonel Ayoub Qassem said the high-powered boats, which range between 3.5 metres and 12 metres in length, will be used for the navy’s maritime border patrols.
He said they will be deployed to various naval bases including one at the port of Ras Ijdar in the west and Al-Burdi in the restive east where they will also be used on coastguard duties, protecting vital installations as well as monitoring illegal sea-borne intrusions and landings within the country’s territorial waters.
The order for the 50 rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBS) includes the 1200 RIB UM Inboard, designed for the high seas. Libya is the second customer for this new model.
The 1200 RIB UM is one of the largest and most advanced of Sillinger’s military offerings and is able to carry up to 25 people. Weapons options include a 7.62 or 5.56 mm gun on each side and a 12.7 mm machinegun on the front. Armour can be retrofitted to the sides of the boat. According to information from Sillinger, the 1200 RIB carries radar and infra-red cameras which make it easier for the boat to navigate rough seas in all types of weather. Powered by two 370 horsepower engines, the 1200 RIB UM Inboard weighs 3 900 kg.
Sillinger boats are widely used by French Navy commandos and the French Customs, particularly the 580 RIB UM, a boat designed for open sea surveillance or insertion operations.
Qassem said the Libyan Navy, which is still struggling to rebuild its capacities following the revolution which ousted Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011, is shortly expecting delivery of 25 patrol boats from South Korea. He said that Libya’s navy received Dutch-made patrol craft earlier in the year.
Meanwhile, Libya recently ordered two Raidco Marine RPB 20 boats, which will be delivered to the Navy on April 26. As part of the deal, Raidco is training 32 Libyan sailors (including four officers) as well as maintenance and other personnel in Lorient, France. They will remain in France for a month before sailing for Libya.
The RPB 20 series is 20 metres long, has a top speed of 28 knots (thanks to its double-chine deep-V hull) and can launch a small boat.