UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Kuwaiti Navy

Kuwaiti NavyThe Kuwaiti navy or Kuwait Naval Force is the smallest branch of the Kuwaiti Armed Forces. The backbone of Kuwait's naval capability consists of 10 guided missiles boats. Other suface combatants include smaller Offshore Patrol Vessels and Patrol Boats. The Kuwaiti Navy has about 2,000 personnel and a little less than 100 vessels of all types.

Ancestors of the al-Subah family, the ruling dynasty of Kuwait, emigrated from central Saudi Arabia (Najd province) in the 17th century and first settled at Umm Qasr. Driven from this location by the Turks, the family established itself at Kuwait in the 18th century. From then until World War I, these minor rulers shifted allegiance according to the exigencies of local dynastic wars and pressures by larger powers.

In the later years of the 18th century, the family and town were under Persian suzerainty, and Kuwait rivalled Basra as a port for the interior of Mesopotamia up to Damascus. However, in 1829 the then ruler had to acknowledge the suzerainty of Turkey and pay tribute to the Ottoman Porte. In return for a subsidy, the Kuwaiti navy protected the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab in the name of the Porte. In 1869–70, the Kuwaiti Ruler joined energetic Turkish Sultan Midhat Pasha in a military campaign into Arabia that conquered al-Hasa province, which, for a time, was governed from Basra as the Turkish province of Najd. Thereafter, the Shaykh of Kuwait formally accepted the Turkish definition of his position and was accepted by the Porte as de jure ruler of Kuwait.

The navy's strength had been estimated at 1,800 in 1990 before the Iraqi occupation. Previously a coastal defense force with police responsibilities, the navy's combat capabilities were significantly enhanced during 1984 with the delivery of eight fast-attack craft armed with Exocet antiship missiles from the West German Lürssen shipyard. The navy also operated a wide variety of smaller patrol craft. According to The Military Balance, the navy was reduced to about 500 personnel in 1992 as a result of the Persian Gulf War and the Kuwaiti policy of removing bidun ("without"--stateless persons without citizenship, many of whom had long-standing stays in Kuwait while others came in the 1960s and 1970s as oil field workers and construction workers) from the armed forces.

With the exception of two missile boats, the entire fleet was captured and sunk or badly damaged by coalition forces while being operated by the Iraqis. Some ships are believed to be salvageable. Five Republic of Korea (South Korea) twenty-four-meter patrol craft were among the vessels lost. However, delivery was expected on an additional four craft under an order pending when the war broke out.

By 1993 Kuwait was rebuilding its armed forces as a result of the heavy losses incurred because of the Iraqi invasion and the subsequent military operations in the Gulf War, resulting in its liberation from the invasion. This situation applies to the Kuwaiti Navy, which, before the Iraqi invasion, consisted of eight major combat units, including two Lurssen-57 missile attack launches, called "Istiqlal" by the Kuwaiti Navy, and six Lurssen-45 class missile attack launches. All of these were equipped with French anti-ship Exocet missiles. Only one Istiqlal-class boat and one Lurssen-45 launch remained after the war.

In 1993 Kuwait concluded a memorandum of understanding with France concerning the rebuilding of the Kuwaiti fleet and outfitting it for the future. Work had begun on implementing some aspects of this comprehensive program, with the signing of acontract to provide Kuwait with patrol and coast guardboats. However, the most important steps will be those pertaining to providing the Kuwaiti Navy with its future requirements, including missile attack launches, which might include four to eight La Combattante-class boats, possibly to be armed with antiship Exocet missiles and Sadral anti-aircraft missiles. In fact, eight were eventually delivered, the first four of which were delivered to Kuwait in mid-1999 and the additional four in 2000. The vessels (designated Um al-Maradim-class in Kuwait) are equipped with the Matra BAe Dynamics Sea Skua SL lightweight anti-ship missile.

Kuwait was also thinking about providing its naval forces with a number of French-built minesweepers of the Tripartite class and, possibly at a later stage of this program, two or three missile frigates of the new F-1200 class. They would be equipped withantiship and antiaircraft missiles and an anti-missile air-defense system. Each frigate would carry armed attack helicopters for naval observation and patrol missions and antiship and submarine operations. If Kuwait decided to acquire these frigates, initial plans required that the contract be concluded during before 1995, so that the Kuwaiti Navy can begin to take delivery during the second half of the 1990's. These ambitious plans did not reach fruition.

By 2002 Abu Dhabi Ship Building Company (ADSB) was offering its capability of repairing, refitting, upgrading and building new naval vessels to more navies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states after successfully completing high quality, value added contracts for the UAE, Qatari and Yemeni naval forces. ADSB, in co-operation with France's Constructions Mecaniques de Normandie (CMN), was bidding for a multi-million dollar contract of the Kuwait Navy involving the refit of two vessels and the upgrade of their combat systems. The two vessels - the 57-meter Istiqlal and the 45-meter Sambouk - had been part of Kuwait Navy's fleet since the 1980s and were built by Germany's Luerssen shipyard.

In 2005 the Kuwait Naval Forces FPB 57 fast attack craft Istiqlal underwent trials in the Baltic after completing an extensive overhaul and modernisation at the Lürssen shipyard in Bremen-Vegesack in Germany. Having been laid up in Kuwait since 1997, Istiqlal was transported to Germany in February 2003 aboard a heavy-lift barge. The vessel received new MTU diesel engines.

The Kuwaiti Navy is purchasing high-speed intruder-interceptor boats to boost security within Kuwait's territorial waters. Such boats meet an important requirement, and enhance the navy's ability to protect offshore oil facilities from terrorist attack. Kuwait's territorial waters include numerous islands and offshore oil pumping and loading facilities.

On 17 November 2005, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Kuwait of 12 MKV-C Fast Interceptor Boats as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $175 million.

The Government of Kuwait has requested a possible sale of 12 MKV-C Fast Interceptor Boats including installed Hull, Mechanical and Electrical systems, 12 RWM GMBH MLG-27mm Mauser Lightweight Gun Systems, communications, technical ground support equipment, spare and repair parts, supply support, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics support services and other related elements of program support. The estimated cost is $175 million.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.

The Kuwaiti Navy does not have a modern, high speed, intruder interceptor boat capable of providing defensive protection for Kuwaiti territorial waters. The territorial waters extend from Khor Shitiyanah at the extreme north along Warba Island south to Umm Al-Maradem Island near its border with Saudi Arabia. Included are all Kuwaiti waters along the Khor Abdullah waterway and around Failaka Island in the North Arabian Gulf, the approaches to the Al-Kuwait Bay and Ash Shuaibah Prot in central Kuwait, and the approaches to Mohamad Al-Ahmed (Kuwait) Naval Base south to the northern territorial limit of Saudi Arabia. This area includes numerous islands and offshore oil pumping and loading facilities. The proposed sale will provide the Kuwaiti Navy the ability to defend these waters and the key facilities located in the area.

The MKV Fast Interceptor Boat is a design to specification high speed (40+ kts), 10.6 meter patrol boat similar to those used by U.S. Navy SEALs. Its hull design is based on an existing MKV design manufactured by one of the prospective prime contractors, VT Halter Marine of Gulfport Mississippi.

On 04 June 2007 MTU Detroit Diesel, Inc., Detroit, Mich., was awarded a $30,546,032 firm-fixed-price contract for Kuwaiti Navy fast interceptor boat propulsion systems packages under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Detroit, Mich. (25 percent); Sweden and Germany (25 percent); and Gulfport, Miss. (50 percent), and work was expected to be completed by December 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not awarded competitively. The Naval Inventory Control Point is the contracting activity (N00104-07-C-K908).

On 22 May 2009 United States Marine, Inc., Gulfport, Miss., was awarded a $61,562,641 firm-fixed-price contract for detail design and construction of 10 Mark V Patrol Boats for the Kuwaiti Navy under the Foreign Military Sales Program. The vessel is designed for coastal patrol and interdiction, and other special operations at sea. Work will be performed in Gulfport, Miss., and is expected to be completed by Jun. 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-09-C-2252).

Exercise Stakenet, one of a series of routinely planned Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) exercises completed 09 February 2012. The exercise began on Feb.5 in the northern Arabian Gulf and featured active participation by Kuwaiti Naval Ships (KNS) Al Nokhetha and Maskan, the guided missile destroyers USS John Paul Jones and USS Sterett, patrol craft USS Typhoon and USS Chinook, the British Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll, a Kuwaiti Coast Guard patrol boat, two Kuwaiti Marine fast boats, U.S. Army Apache attack helicopters, U.S. Navy Maritime Patrol Aircraft, and U,S. Air Force F-16 aircraft.

The maritime security exercise was planned and lead by Kuwaiti-led Combined Task Force (CTF) 152, headquartered in Kuwait, with the Task Group Commander embarked at sea onboard USS Sterett. The maritime security evolutions carried out during the week aim to build experience and develop common working procedures amongst the navies of the Combined Maritime Forces. Stakenet is held regularly during each nation’s rotation in command of the Command Task Force 152 units from CMF navies and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Coast Guard forces join together to exercise procedures to protect critical maritime infrastructure within the region. By exercising together on a regular basis, maritime tactics and reporting procedures become familiar and clearly understood by all of the nations taking part. The complex exercise was hailed a considerable success during the post exercise conference held at sea, yielding useful lessons regarding multi-layered protection and secure communications procedures and exercising the best tactical employment of the differing classes of ships and aircraft.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 06-12-2012 19:20:28 ZULU