The final six of 10 Metal Shark boats, provided through 500 million Kenyan shillings of grant funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, were delivered to the Kenya Navy in Mombasa port this week, said the State Department in a press release through the U.S. Embassy in Kenya.
The 10 Metal Shark boats represent the largest U.S. maritime security cooperation program in sub-Saharan Africa, and are intended to reinforce the Kenya Navy’s Maritime Domain Awareness capability. These boats have exceptional capacity to operate in the challenging equatorial maritime environment, while simultaneously being rugged enough to endure extended operations with minimal maintenance. They will bolster the Kenya Navy’s capability to deploy Kenyan Rangers and other quick reaction forces from the sea, and to patrol and defend the more than 500 km maritime border. They will help the Kenya Navy, and KDF at large, to continue forward in the fight against terrorism.
“Today we reaffirm that the United States is and will remain your steadfast partner in the fight against terrorism and extremism,” said U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec. “We are pleased today to make this important contribution to Kenyan and regional security and look forward to the excellent work the Kenya Navy will do with these vessels. The Metal Sharks will bolster the Kenya Navy’s capacity to combat al-Shabaab, an effort that will bring about a more stable and peaceful East Africa.”
The U.S. Navy and the Kenya Navy have enjoyed an enduring partnership for over 40 years. Since 2003, the U.S. Department of Defense has provided the Kenya Navy over 1.7 billion Kenyan shillings of hardware assistance and equipment training; 300 million Kenyan shillings of professional development; and 100 million Kenyan shillings of maintenance upgrades for naval equipment.
In November, the Pentagon said the number of U.S. troops on the ground helping the Somali government fight al-Shabaab was close to the number of troops on the ground in Syria helping fight ISIS.
“Al-Shabaab has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and is dedicated to providing safe haven for terrorist attacks throughout the world. Al-Shabaab has publicly committed to planning and conducting attacks against the U.S. and our partners in the region,” U.S. Africa Command said after airstrikes against the terror group in November. “U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats. This includes partnering with AMISOM and Somali National Security Forces (SNSF); targeting terrorists, their training camps and safe havens throughout Somalia, the region and around the world.”