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Emirati Navy

The U.A.E. Navy is small -- about 2,500 personnel -- but modernized and well trained. Presently designed for coastal defense, it maintains well-equipped coastal patrol boats and missile boats. The navy is based in Abu Dhabi, with additional facilities in Dubai, Ras al Khaymah, and Sharjah. The navy also included a marine battalion. Maritime capacity in the region can be best described by dividing the Gulf states into two distinct groups: regional powers and small regional actors. Those in the first group are Iran and Saudi Arabia. The other the smaller states have difficult adequately manning, equipping, and training their own forces due to financial constraints or relatively low populations. Some of the smaller states, such as UAE and Oman, have built modern maritime forces, but lack sufficient manpower resources from which to draw personnel. While the UAE Navy is more formidable than the navies of the smaller Gulf countries, it is smaller than those of Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Although historically a coastal force, the navy is expanding its role to include blue-water capabilities, envisioning s forces able to conduct and sustain operations throughout the Gulf region, the Arabian Ocean, and as far as the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. The navy is modernizing and expand its fleet through foreign procurement and domestic shipbuilding. This expansion has been hindered by manpower shortages, a problem within the UAE military as a whole. The reliance on foreign expertise and manning reduces the overall effectiveness of an otherwise capable force.

The UAE's naval security is distributed between several commands. The UAE Navy is concerned primarily with countering the Iranian Navy and IRGC-N. Its acquisition of units such as the new Baynunah class corvette reflects its focus on conventional naval threats. The Coast Guard is primarily responsible for securing Emirati territorial waters and offshore economic interests. Long considered somewhat of a stepchild passed between Ministry of Interior and the Navy, the UAE Coast Guard is now an independent military service which has been receiving increased government resources.

The UAE has a longstanding dispute with Iran overthe sovereignty of three islands—Abu Musa, Greater Tunb, and Lesser Tunb—near tankerroutes to the Strait of Hormuz, which were seized by the Shah of Iran after the British withdrew from the Gulf in the early 1970s. The islands were militarily occupied by the Iranians in 1992 when Tehran claimed that they were an “inseparable part of Iran.” The UAE navy could try to reassert control of the disputed islands, and maintains an amphibious assault capability in support of this requirement.

As of 1993 the most powerful units of the UDF navy were two Lürssen corvettes delivered by Germany in 1991, similar to those of the Bahraini navy. The corvettes were supplemented by fast-attack craft and large patrol boats. By the early 1990s, the Gulf states were putting exceptional importance on the question of building up and strengthening their naval forces invarious fields. By 1993 the United Arab Emirates had a naval force that should not be underestimated for its effectiveness and modernity. At that time, it was composed of 10 main combat units, including two missile picketships (corvettes), which were German-made Lurssen-62 class ships called "Murai Jib" by the UAE Navy. They were armed with French-built, surface-to-surface Exocet anti-ship missiles and surface-to-air anti-aircraft Sadral missiles, which was the UAE Navy's version of the French Mistral anti-aircraft missile. Each one also carried an Alouette-3 class helicopter for naval observation and patrol missions, as well as anti-ship and anti-submarine operations. In addition, the UAE fleet included two Lurssen-50 missile attack launches, known by the UAE name of "al-Mubarriz." They were also armed with Exocet and Sadral missiles. There were six missile attack launches of the Lurssen-45 class, known as "Baniyas." They were armed with Exocet missiles.

In 1996, the UAE issued tenders worth USD2 billion for frigates and fast patrol craft. Two Dutch Kortenaer-class frigates were delivered in 1997 and 1998 (these have since been laid up) and the UAE signed an agreement with the US Navy for the supply of Harpoon anti-ship missiles to be fitted to the two frigates. Sea Sparrow anti-aircraft missiles were also acquired from the US company, Raytheon.

As of 2006 expected defense outlays for 2005-2008 included a dozen 68-meter Baynunah Class Guided Missile Boats built in the UAE from a French design, programmed for delivery starting in 2007, and equipped with U.S. missile defense systems at an estimated cost of over $200 million, six patrol boats worth $600 million from the French, and a single 130-meter ex-Kortenaer Class Frigate under negotiation with the Netherlands.

By 2007 the navy's inventory included two frigates, two corvettes, eight missile craft, six coastal patrol craft, five landing craft (tank), and two support and miscellaneous craft. Naval aviation had 11 helicopters and another seven helicopters in an antisurface warfare role. As part of the UAE's military modernization program, the navy is seeking to upgrade its bluewater capabilities with the construction of six Baynunah multirole corvettes in conjunction with French shipbuilder CMN and to enhance its amphibious capabilities through the acquisition of assault and landing craft as well as amphibious armored personnel carriers for its marine battalion. By 2010 the Navy had two frigates, two corvettes, eight fast patrol craft, 26 small patrol craft, 28 amphibious landing craft, but no dedicated support vessels. Its aviation wing consisted of 14 maritime attack and four maritime surveillance helicopters, providing a substantial over-the-horizon capability most of its peers lacked.

Over the medium term, the UAE may wish to acquire submarines: there have been reports of interest in two ex-German Navy Type 206 boats, with some training being conducted, and interest in ex-Italian Navy Toti-class boats. This would be in line with the concept of a balanced fleet, with both coastal and blue water functions. Improvements to anti-submarine warfare may be particularly relevant.

The UAE Navy frequently exercises with other Navies operating in the Gulf. In January 2010, operating in the Gulf region as part of Operation Telic, HMS Monmouth (The Black Duke) recently participated in Exercise Stakenet Plus. The exercise lasted 11 days with 22 ships from the UK, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, France and the US taking part. The aim of Stakenet Plus was to test a range of scenarios in order to develop regional capacity for the protection of key economic and energy infrastructure in the region. The provision of maritime protection to oil platforms, a major source of income for this area of the world and a key function of the Operation Telic tasking, was practiced in a variety of situations to ensure all units remain fully ready to deter any potential aggressors in the region.

The search and rescue aspect of the exercise centerd round UAENS Bani Yas. Here the UAE ship sustained simulated “damage” after a fire in her engine room. The scenario had the crew simulating extinguishing the fire but suffering several casualties in the process. Monmouth sent her search and rescue teams, including medical care and associated equipment, to aid the ‘debilitated’ vessel and their crew. The Black Duke’s Salvage Officer, Lieutenant Commander Gary Rawlings, said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for the rescue and assistance teams to practice one of our most important capabilities. A great deal was learnt which could realistically be put into practice for real whilst we are deployed on operations.”

Many nations have deployed their naval assets off the coast of Somalia in an effort to counter piracy, especially in the strategic shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden. Navies, including those of the UAE, coalition forces and regional nations, have met Somali pirates with force; however, piracy continues to be a growing international problem. An international anti-piracy conference was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 18 and 19, 2011. Held under the theme "Global Challenge, Regional Responses: Forging A Common Approach to Maritime Piracy," the meeting focused on finding ways to counter the recent spike in criminal activity at sea, off the Somali coast and in the Arabian Sea. This was the first time the UAE has held an international conference on the topic, taking a strong stand on the problem and proving that they are ready to step up and assist in the fight against piracy.

Both former United Arab Emirates UAE Navy frigates, acquired in 1997 and 1998, decommissioned in 2008. The Al Emirat and the Abu Dhabi were converted into a super luxury Giga yachts known as Swift 141 and Swift 135. One hull was used as the base of the Swift141, to be one of the most sophisticated private yachts in the world and, at 141 meters length overall, one of the longest yachts in the world. Under the banner of Abu Dhabi MAR, the 1200 employees of ADMShipyards in Abu Dhabi, UAE, directed by Dutch-born naval architect and marine engineer, Johan Valentijn. Mr Valentijn, in cooperation with key subcontractors and Paris-based Pierrejean Design Studio, reconfigured the vessel with the latest technology as well as modern interior and exterior styling. The frigate was built originally by De Schelde in Vlissingen for the Royal Dutch Navy as F811 (Piet Heyn), then transferred to the UAE after fulfilling her mission; she began a new life as a private yacht for an Emirati owner.

The Dutch Ambassador and Deputy Head of Mission in the UAE, invited to tour the vessel and ADM Shipyards facilities, expressed their admiration for the quality of the work and the meticulous attention to detail. Mr Valentijn said that to accomplish the Swift’s exciting new mission he assembled the best people from every corner of the world to form a highly qualified team of shipbuilding managers, and he employed many specialised subcontractors including several leading Dutch firms. The Swift141 was to be completed in 2012.

Contrary to an announcement of Drydocks World in Dubai, Lürssen has no plans to cooperate in general with Drydocks World in Dubai for the repair and maintenance of navy ships or yachts and no agreement relating to such work has been reached or agreed. Lürssen had no intention to form a joint setup with Drydocks World in the Dubai Maritime City facility.

The delivery ceremony of two vessels for the United Arab Emirates Navy was held January 08, 2013 at the Fincantieri shipyard in Muggiano (La Spezia). These were an "Abu Dhabi Class" corvette, launched in February 2011, and the "Ghantut" patrol vessel, launched at the same yard in January 2012. In the presence of Rear Admiral Ibrahim Salem Mohamed Al-Musharrakh, Head of the UAE Navy, Admiral Luigi Binelli Mantelli, Italian Navy Chief of Staff, who was represented on this occasion by Vice Admiral Alberto Gauzolino, Logistic Support and Light houses Inspector, Vice Admiral Andrea Toscano, Commander in Chief Northern Tyrrhenian Sea Department Italian Navy, Vice Admiral Ernesto Nencioni, Director for Naval Armaments and Alberto Maestrini, Fincantieri Executive Senior Vice President Naval Vessels, the ceremony began with the characteristic recitation of the Qur'an in accordance with the dictates of Islam.

Exemplifying Fincantieri's product excellence, both vessels stand out for their high level of flexibility in being able to carry out different types of mission in national and international waters (from patrol and surveillance, to defence against air and surface threats and attack against both land and sea targets), as well as for their high standards of accommodation and safety.

As evidence of the strategic importance of the Middle East market and the strong and fruitful partnership initiated with the Emirates, Fincantieri has set up the company Etihad Ship Building in Abu Dhabi as a joint venture with Al Fattan Ship Industries and Melara Middle East; the purpose of the company, which is already operational, is to design, construct and sell both civilian and military ships, as well as carry out maintenance and refitting. In fact, now more than ever, securing foreign orders means ships being built in local shipyards. It is therefore necessary to be suitably equipped to ensure that customers obtain quality and rapid delivery.

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