The Tunisian government has taken delivery of the first two patrol boats built by Italian shipbuilder Cantiere Navale Vittoria for use by the National Guard in combating illegal immigration and maritime crime.
The boats were supplied in terms of an inter-governmental deal signed in April 2011 in which the Italian government pledged to build and supply patrol boats to Tunisia for use in border control and anti-immigration patrols.
This followed a massive influx of African immigrants landing on Italian shores after launching from Tunisian ports. In terms of the deal, Italy will supply an unknown number of patrol boats which will be built at a net cost of US$22 million. In May 2011, Italy donated four patrol boats which are already being used in border control and anti-immigration patrols by the Tunisian National Guard.
The two 35 meter patrol boats (GN3501 and GN3502) were built at the Cantiere Navale Vittoria shipyard in Adria, Italy and handed over to Tunisian government representatives by company president Luigi Duo early in December. The boats were finally delivered to Tunis on December 28 and now await commissioning into service. The ‘Patrouilleur Class’ patrol boats are based on the P350 project design used by the Libyan Coast Guard.
Luigi said the patrol boats will boost the Tunisian National Guard’s capacity to conduct counter-piracy, anti-smuggling and human trafficking patrols. They will play an instrumental role in patrolling Tunisia’s 1 148 kilometer coastline.
“The first two patrol boats have been built under the new P350 project design. With a 140-tonne full displacement, a 35 m length, and a 7.2 m beam, the new patrol vessels are built of aluminum and feature a propulsion system based on two shafts, with one 3120 kW MTU 16V2000 M93 diesel engine and one Rolls-Royce Kamewa 63 S3 NP hydrojet, offering a maximum speed of over 38 knots,” Luigi said.
Each of the patrol boats accommodates a crew of 16 and features integrated command, control and navigation suites including satellite and radio links, which were provided by Italian company AlmavivA. They can be equipped with guns of up to 30 mm caliber.