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Gambian Navy

The small Gambian navy established itself as a separate entity from the land forces in July 1996, although limited to patrol duties along the coastal zone. In 1985 the Marine Unit of the Gambian National Army was redesignated the Gambian Navy. The strength of the Navy is variously estimated at from 125 to 250 personnel. Although The Gambia has a coastline of 80km and that its maritime does not cover some vast area, yet it is important to hold the middle way ships from Europe to Guinea Gulf and even to the Southern Africa region.

The authorities have introduced fishery legislation and regulations governing gear, fish size, and net size, and introducing new surveillance provisions. Assistance has been provided to the Gambian Navy in this regard through provision of new patrol vessels. The bilateral fisheries agreement with Senegal gives mutual fishing rights with defined parameters and contains provisions for cooperation in research, surveillance, and training.

Three members of the US Navy arrived in the Gambia in February 2008 to install an Automatic Identification System (AIS) for The Gambian Navy. The Project is called the Maritime Security and Safety Information System (MSSIS). MSSIS is an unclassified computer network system that provides the ability for any country in the area of responsibility to connect and become a contributing data-sharing partner with their neighbors, their region and the United States.

The objective of the MSSIS network is to assist or provide emerging partners with capability to detect, track, identify display and share information on cooperative surface vessels and to enable maritime security and safety operations. The project developed and implemented by the United States Government will help countries like The Gambia better control their maritime territory. This includes the area of illegal fishing, illegal immigration, drug trafficking, environmental pollution, oil theft, terrorism and piracy, only to name a few. The US Navy team would like the Gambian Navy to pick a future spot where they would like coverage and another AIS antenna will be installed at the location, together with another wireless system providing coverage at another site

In September 2011 a team of United States navy officers on board US HSV-2 SWIFT HSV Swift (HSV 2) docked at the Banjul seaport as part of its Africa Partnership Station (APS) to conduct a two-week intensive training for Gambian navy personnel and other security outfits in a bid to strengthen maritime security. The visit to The Gambia by the US vessel was the final stop after a series of port visits in the Gulf of Guinea to support training engagements in support of APS, after completing APS training engagements with naval forces from Nigeria, Ghana and Benin. During its stay in the country, the vessel hosted instructional courses for Gambian naval forces in the subjects of maritime intelligence, non-commissioned officer leadership, basic instructors training taught by instructors from US Naval Forces. This was followed by a two-week small-boat hull maintenance course taught at the Gambia Navy base.

The Chief of Defense Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, Lt. General Massaneh Kinteh, in his speech recalled the support that US government and other international partners offered towards improving maritime safety and security in Africa, as part of the US Africa commands security cooperation program. The African region like The Gambia requires constant maritime sea going naval assets, maritime legislation and institutions to better regulate the fishing industry, policing and prosecution of illegal acts, Kinteh added.

Lt. General Kinteh also recalled that the overall goal of the APS program series is to build skills, expertise and professionalism of African military forces, the coast guards and marines. He stated that The Gambia is significantly challenged in enforcing the rule of law beyond its territorial waters to combat illegal fishing, human smuggling and drug trafficking. Commodore Madani Senghore, Commander of the Gambia Navy said the training was mainly geared towards enhancing maritime security, and security through partnership.

On 28 August 2013 The Gambia Navy (GN) took delivery of three boats donated by the Taiwanese government, providing a major boost to the countrys small navy. The eight ton vessels are 10 metres long, armed with a 12.7 mm machinegun and are powered by twin 115 horsepower outboard engines giving a top speed of 80 km/h and an endurance of two hours at full throttle. They were refurbished prior to delivery to Africa and christened GN Berre Kuntu, GN Kenyeh Kenyeh Jamango and GN Sanimentereng. Taiwans President Ma Ying-jeou agreed on the donation during a visit to The Gambia in April 2012, to replace the four 50 ton Dvora class (called Hai Ou Seagull in Taiwan) fast patrol boats Taiwan donated to the country in 2009. One was seriously damaged, precipitating the donation of the new vessels. The Dvora class patrol boats will now be used for training.

The Gambia Navy on 08 October 2015 witnessed the decoration of 245 officers to various ranks, at a ceremony held at the Navy headquarters in Banjul. Graced by senior officers of GAF and Navy, the occasion also witnessed the decoration of 3 master chief petty officers, 8 fleet chief petty officers, 21 chief petty officers, 37 petty officers, 53 leading seamen and 123 able seamen. This ennumeration suggests a total strength of at least 500 service members. As a military institution the Gambia Navy is guided by an organisation structure which entails various appointments and the rank structure.





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