Royal Navy of Oman (RNO)
Oman was once one of the world's great sea powers, and its strategic location, proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, long coast and ports on the Indian Ocean give its navy a high priority. Applying his military experience, Sultan Qaboos successfully modernised his armed forces. He is committed to the protection of international shipping in Omani territorial waters, which include an important part of the Strait of Hormuz; this Strait is vital to the Gulf region and is the corridor through which most of the region's oil production is shipped to the outside world. In addition, this important maritime passage has been utilized for the shipment of many of the region imports and exports.
The Royal Navy of Oman (RNO) has a fleet of gunboats, fast missile boats and support, training, cargo and hydrographical survey vessels,which can be deployed to protect the Sultanate’s coasts and territorial waters and monitor the passage of ships and oil tankers through the strategic Strait of Hormuz. RNO also provides support for joint amphibious and marine transport operations. Three new advanced ocean patrol boats built to the highest operational specifications reinforce the RNO’s capability in Omani waters and the open seas. The Said bin Sultan Naval Base with its world-class facilities is one of the Sultanate’s leading naval establishments. Its Naval Training Centre is accredited by the AGCC Computer HQ as an International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) examining center.
The Royal Oman Navy (RON), with a strength of 3,000 in 1992, has its headquarters at As Sib, thirty-six kilometers west of Muscat. The principal naval establishment is the Said ibn Sultan Naval Base, completed in 1987, at Wudham Alwa near As Sib. One of the largest engineering projects ever undertaken in Oman, it provides a home port for the RON fleet, training facilities, and workshops for carrying out all maintenance and repair activities. The Naval Training Center, located at the base, offers entrylevel courses for officers and enlisted personnel, as well as specialized branch training. Initially, the navy was staffed almost entirely by British officers and Pakistani NCOs. By the late 1980s, most ship commanders were Omanis, although many Pakistani and British technical personnel remained.
The navy's main combat vessels were four Province-class missile boats built by Vosper Thornycroft. Armed with Exocet antiship missiles and 76mm guns, the last ship was delivered in 1989. The navy also operates four Brook Marine fast-attack craft with 76mm guns and four inshore patrol craft.
The navy is well equipped for amphibious operations and has one 2,500-ton landing ship capable of transporting sixty-ton tanks and three LCMs (landing craft-mechanized). The Royal Oman Navy is not reported to have a Marine Corps or Naval Infantry formation, nor does there appear to be a formation focused on amphibious operations in the Land Forces.
The “Al-Munassir” is a former Royal Navy of Oman tank landing craft (LST), pennant number Lima 1, which was sunk in 2003 as an artificial reef by the Oman Government and is maintained by the Ministry of Tourism. She lies in just under 30m of water in the clear waters of Bandar Khayran approximately ten miles south of the capital Muscat. The “Al-Munassir” was built in the UK by Brook Marine of Lowestoft and commissioned into service with the Royal Navy of Oman in January 1979. Built as a tank landing ship she had a displacement of 2991.5 tonnes and measured 84.1 meters in length with a beam of 14.9 meters. She was initially armed with one 4.5 inch rapid fire gun forward and twin 20mm Oerlikon guns on either side of the superstructure. She also operated a Sea King helicopter from a stern helideck (although she was not equipped with a hanger). Below decks her cavernous payload bay (accessed via her bow doors) was designed to carry a variety of military vehicles including main battle tanks. She had additional accommodation for troops. She was transferred into the reserves [some accounts state in 1987, others in the mid-1990s] and became the Harbor Training Ship at SBSNB Wudam, where she served until decommissioned in 2002 [Combat Fleets says in 2005].
The modernisation of the Royal Navy of Oman (RNO) was conducted using an intelligently and aptly devised program of development which was also facilitated by Oman’s well-established history of sea-going exploration. In 1994/95, the ships RNV Al Bushra and RNV Al Mansour were dedicated as part of the ongoing plan to establish a first rate fleet, competent to protect the 1700km coastline and the strategically important Strait of Hormuz, which is the lifeline of international shipping in the Gulf region. Oman ordered two corvettes - Q31 Quahir al Amwaj and Q32 Al Mua'zzar - armed with eight Exocet missiles, delivered from Britain in 1996-97.
Project Khareef, signed in 2007, covered the design and build of three state-of-the-art 99 meter corvettes for the RNO. With a continued commitment to providing through-life support and services to its customers, BAE Systems is also delivering training for RNO personnel, as well as an initial logistics support package for the ships. The corvette is an efficient and operationally flexible platform, equipped to defend against both surface and air threats. These ships are used to protect Omani territorial waters, conducting coastal patrols in peacetime, with the ability to conduct search and rescue, as well as disaster relief, while providing ocean going capability for use in deterrent operations during times of tension.
Al Shamikh, the first of three ships being built by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy of Oman (RNO) embarked on her first sea trials in the Solent 20 December 2010. Departing from the Company’s Portsmouth facility, a combined BAE Systems and RNO crew is putting the ship through her paces, undertaking extensive platform testing for speed, propulsion and manoeuvrability in the first demonstration of the ship’s capability at sea. Following Al Shamikh’s initial sea trials, she will return to Portsmouth before undergoing further integration and testing, with weapons trials set to take place in the New Year. The first of class was expected to be handed over to the RNO in 2011, following which the crew would undergo the UK Royal Navy's Flag Officer Sea Training before the ship sailed to Oman for warm weather trials.
Al Rahmani, the second ship in the class, was launched in July 2010 and will undertake sea trials in 2011, while the third ship, Al Rasikh, was launched in March 2011. The last of three corvettes under construction by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy of Oman (RNO) was formally named in a launching ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base 27 June 2011. Employees and guests, including senior representatives from the RNO and UK Royal Navy, gathered at the naval base to watch Lt General Hassan Mohsin Al Sharaiqi, Inspector General of the Police and Customs of the Sultanate of Oman, formally name the RNO’s newest vessel, Al Rasikh.
A major partnership between Oman Sail and BAE Systems was announced 03 February 2010 during the final leg of the Extreme 40s Asia series in Muscat, Oman. With the support and guidance of the Ministry of Tourism, Oman Sail was set up in 2008 to rekindle Oman’s maritime heritage and to inspire a new generation of young Omanis to take up sailing as recreation and as a competitive sport. This will help to restore Oman’s maritime eminence through competing at international level as well as supporting the development of events to support professional sailing in Arabian Peninsula. BAE Systems has a long and well-established relationship with Oman, a trusted partnership which dates back over 30 years, and is a major provider of defence equipment to the country. The partnership with Oman Sail is an important initiative for BAE Systems and is a demonstration of its commitment to this key market.
Al Said [after the Omani Royal Family] the royal yacht of Sultaan Qaboss bin Said al Said, at 155 meters length is the third largest yacht in the world. Al Said was built by the naval architect Lurssen Yachts of Germany in collaboration with Jonathan Quinn Barret, who designed this mega yacht. Initially nicknamed as Project Sunflower, the interiors and styling of the yacht were done by Espen Oeino. Al Said’s main hull was crafted from steel and its superstructure is made with aluminum and after sea trials, the yacht was delivered to the owner in 2007.
Zinat Al-Bihaar is Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said’s sailing yacht, launched by Oman Royal Yacht Squadron in the year 1988 in Oman. Loaloat Al Behar is a 103 meter custom built yacht built in 1982, and was earlier named as Al Said . The name was changed to Loaloat Al Behar as His Majesty got his newr motor yacht Al Said as her replacement. Later, Sultaan gave this yacht to Ministry of Tourism of Oman.
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