Located at the far west of the African continent, Senegal remains a strategic position of choice thanks to a maritime façade extended by an Exclusive Economic Zone of two hundred (200) miles particularly rich in fisheries and mining resources. From this situation comes the importance of the Senegalese Navy created in 1961, which immediately after independence is responsible for preserving the interests of the State at sea.
The Navy was created on January 22, 1961. The delivery of the flag to the Navy is celebrated annually on 22 January. The nucleus of a navy, with about 150 men by the early 1970s, had a few patrol craft of less than 100 tons each and one heavier patrol boat. Its primary mission was coastal surveillance, and it had the additional assignments of enforcing navigation laws and monitoring territorial waters. The headquarters and primary installations used by both the air force and navy were at Dakar.
The National Navy comprises a General Staff and three corps. The missions of the Navy fall within the general framework of the defense and development missions entrusted to the Armed Forces. They can be classified into 4 categories: Maritime Defense of the Territory, Economic Defense, Public Service and Safety of Maritime Navigation.
A military mission, the maritime defense of the territory is intended to assert national sovereignty in waters under Senegalese jurisdiction. She understands :
- Coastal defense;
- Protection of maritime borders;
- Surveillance of maritime territory;
- And support for other components of the Armed Forces.
The aim of Economic defense is to safeguard maritime resources by:
- Fisheries monitoring;
- Pollution control (hydrocarbons - toxic wastes);
- The fight against smuggling and drug trafficking.
The public service mission is carried out in the form of:
- Research, relief and assistance in a maritime region that goes from Sierra Leone to Mauritania;
- Transport to public or private services;
- Of medical evacuation.
The search and rescue system at sea is intended to assist persons and property in danger or actually in distress. To ensure the safety of maritime navigation, the Navy:
- Is responsible for the distribution of nautical information;
- Operates a "Works - Maps - Nautical Instruments (OCI)" service.
Apart from these classical missions, the Navy ensures representation of the national flag on the high seas, on shorelines and in foreign ports. For the morale of its personnel, the Navy has set up two organizations, namely the Amicale des Marins and the Bureau des Relations Sociales.
The National Navy comprises a staff and three (03) corps:
- Operational Naval Group (GNO): responsible for the implementation of naval units, which are grouped together in High Seas Patrol Boat (PHM), Coastal Surveillance (BSC), and Coastal Vessel (VCR) and Group Transport sector (DTIS).
- Naval Support Group (GSM): responsible for the security of port infrastructure, naval unit maintenance and repair, personnel training and logistical support.
- Waterfront Monitoring Group (GSFM): responsible for the surveillance and protection of maritime and river areas.
On 20 November 2015, the U.S. Government donated two patrol ships to the Senegalese navy as part of the ongoing partnership with Senegal to combat drug trafficking and promote border security. The 38-foot Metal Shark patrol crafts will be used to help secure Senegal’s borders. Donated through the United States Africa Command's (AFRICOM) Counter-Narcotics Division, the Defender Class patrol crafts are anticipated to be deployed as river patrollers to provide border security.
In a handover ceremony with the Senegalese Navy, Ambassador James Zumwalt called it a turning point in our history of security cooperation. “We share with Senegal the same strategic need to stop illicit activity on the Senegal River and provide maritime security for the Senegalese people. In an increasingly interconnected, global world, we must work together to face all threats – both local and international.”
Israel shipyards delivered a Shaldag MK V patrol ship to the Senegalese Navy in NOvember 2020. It was the last vessel delivered as part of an agreement for the supply of four patrol ships to the West African country. As reported by Israel Defense, the agreement was signed in November 2019 for the supply of three Shaldag MK II patrol Ships and one Shaldag MK V. The agreement also includes personnel training, maintenance and technical support. The first two ships were delivered last year and the third was delivered at the end of this summer. The Shaldag MK V is intended for use in remote and deep-water areas in Senegal's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The vessels vary in physical characteristics which, mainly the length overall of the vessels (MK II – 25.30, MK V – 32.65) and the tonnage (MK II – 60 tons, MK V – abt. 95 tons). While the physical characteristics are different, this affect mainly the payload carried as the missions and maneuver capabilities remain similar, with high speed of over 40 knots for the MK V and over 45 knots for the MK II.
The oceans off West Africa are teeming with life. Fish is a staple of many diets in the region and accounts for the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands in countries like Senegal and Sierra Leone. But their way of life is increasingly under threat, as far from the shore, industrial vessels trawl in huge quantities of fish illegally. Greenpeace describes the situation as a "Wild West in Africa's oceans". Once among the richest in the world, West Africa's fish stocks are being depleted by industrial trawlers which comb the oceans to feed European and Asian markets.
In Senegal, dwindling stocks pose a threat to livelihoods and food security. Some 600,000 people, almost 20 percent of the workforce, work in fishing, and fish accounts for 75 percent ofthe country's animal protein intake.
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