Royal Bahrain Navy (RBN)
Royal Bahrain Naval Force (RBNF)
Bahraini Royal Naval Force
Until 1979, when its first fast-attack craft were ordered from the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), Bahrain's maritime force was a coast guard under the supervision of the minister of interior. As of 1992, the navy was equipped with two Lürssen sixty-two-meter corvettes. One Dauphin helicopter armed with an antiship missile has been delivered for use with the corvettes. The navy also had in its inventory four forty-five- meter Lürssen fast-attack craft and two thirty-eight-meter craft. The coast guard operated a variety of patrol craft, as well as three landing craft and a Hovercraft.
Bahrain is eligible to receive grant “excess defense articles” (EDA). The United States transferredthe FFG-7 “Perry class” frigate Subha as EDA in July 1997. According to the State Department’s FY2012 budget request, the U.S. Navy was supporting providing another frigate (an “extended deck frigate”) to Bahrain as EDA because the Subha was approaching the end of its service life. As an island nation dependent on keeping sea lanes open, Bahrain was interested in strengthening its Navy by requesting, as excess, an FFG-7 frigate from the US for antisubmarine warfare missions.
From 4 March through 5 June 2008, the Commander of the Royal Bahrain Navy (RBN), Brigadier Al Mansoori, took command of Combined Task Force (CTF) 152, the coalition maritime force that patrols the central and southern Arabian Gulf. This was the first time a Gulf state commanded a coalition naval operation, and Brigadier Al Mansoori's role may inspire others in the Gulf to take a turn in command of a CTF as well. The RBN would welcome an opportunity to command this task force again.
Under Al Mansoori's command, CTF 152 fostered positive relationships with local mariners by conducting more than 300 Interaction Patrols. Combined forces informed local mariners of the coalition's presence, commitment to maritime security, built a network of mutual trust and respect between regional navies and the mariners who use the Persian Gulf and conducted bilateral and multinational exercises with coalition partners.
Al Mansoori also led one operation and two exercises during his command of CTF 152. Operation Stake Net focused on protecting key economic infrastructure in the central and southern Persian Gulf, while Exercise Goalkeeper II and III helped the coalition improve interoperability while enhancing regional security and keeping the sea lanes open for the vital flow of commerce throughout the region. Al Mansoori said being a part of the coalition was important, because maritime security is a significant responsibility. "MSO is not a single country's mission, and no country can single-handedly achieve the goal of these operations," he said. "That's why we are joining our friendly navies in this imperative task."
Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead, on behalf of U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, presented Royal Bahrain Navy Brig. Gen. Abdulla Saeed Al Mansoori with the Legion of Merit at an awards ceremony at Bahraini Naval headquarters in Manama, Bahrain, 23 August 2009. Al Mansoori received the award in recognition of his leadership of Combined Task Force (CTF) 152, which marked the first time a Gulf nation commanded a coalition task force. Al Mansoori commanded CTF 152 from March to June 2008. "General Abdulah's strategic vision and exceptional spirit of cooperation greatly enhanced teamwork and trust between the navies of the United States and Bahrain by enhancing and standardizing interoperability during a period of increasingly complex security challenges," said the official award citation signed by Gates. "General Abdullah's leadership and determined efforts to significantly invest in Bahrain's naval relationship with the United States has bolstered regional maritime security through his keen understanding of the use of seapower as an instrument of world peace."
The Government of Bahrain is concerned about its vulnerability to maritime threats such as drug trafficking, terrorism and subversion. Enhancing coastal defense and maritime security is a priority second only to missile defense. The Ministry of Interior has embarked on an ambitious program to enhance the counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics capabilities of its Coast Guard Special Units.
A NAVCENT-initiated Section 1206 funded proposal would upgrade Bahrain's Coastal Surveillance Radar. The proposal did not receive funding through the Section 1206 program in 2008, but was submitted again in 2009. If approved, this proposal would significantly improve Bahrain's maritime security capability and send a strong message of support to the government at a time of steep reductions in FMF and IMET funding. Under this proposal the Bahrain Navy will receive new equipment that will augment the system already owned by the Bahrain Coast Guard. The picture will be shared with the Bahrain Coast Guard, Bahrain Military Intelligence, and the U.S. Navy. The radar picture can potentially be shared with other countries in the region.
In 2009 Bahrain expressed interest in whether the US would be able to transfer a second Perry-class frigate to Bahrain under the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program. Bilateral discussions on this issue had been on-going since 2002, with the USG initially projecting that such a ship would be available within 5 years. Citing concerns about the operational capacity of its existing Perry-class frigate the RBNS Sabha, Bahrain reiterated the need for assistance in order to continue its support of coalition operations.
By 2010 the Royal Bahraini Navy consists of approximately 700 personnel and maintains a frigate, corvettes, patrol and coastal combatants, and amphibious craft in its arsenal. Bahrain lacks mine warfare capabilities but is an effective fighting force against smuggling, for a minimal amount of time, as well as protecting fishery. Its sole naval base is located at Mina Sulman and it relies on the Royal Navy as well as the GCC states for training purposes. Of significant importance to Bahrain is its sole former U.S. Navy frigate, which it has possessed since 1997.
The Royal Bahrain Naval Force (RBNF) took part in the Joint GCC Navy Exercise, "Solidarity 14", which concluded in Saudi Arabia. Warships from GCC countries' naval forces participated in the joint mobilization drill which kicked off on October 6th and ran until October 16th, 2011.
On 20 November 2012 His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Deputy of His Majesty the King and Crown Prince, praised the key role played by the Royal Bahrain Naval Force (RBNF) in safeguarding the kingdom's territorial waters and effective participation in efforts to maintain security and stability in the Arabian Gulf. This came as the Deputy King paid a visit to the headquarters of RBNF where he was welcomed on arrival by the Commander-in-Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) Field Marshal Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, RBNF Commander and a number of its senior officers. HRH Crown Prince hailed RBNF's continuous development, as well as its affiliates' preparedness, dedication and readiness to defend the homeland. Advisor at HRH Crown Prince's Court for Political and Economic Affairs Shaikh Mohammed bin Isa Al Khalifa, Head of the HRH Crown Prince's Court Shaikh Khalifa bin Daij Al Khalifa and RBNF Commander Commodore Shaikh Khalifa bin Abdulla Al Khalifa accompanied HRH Crown Prince.
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