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Kenya Navy

Janes Sentinel Security Assessment notes that the Kenyan Navy is the best equipped force on the East African coast and benefits from regular training exercises and assistance from the United Kingdom, United States, French and South African navies.

Smallest and junior of the three services, the Kenya Navy in mid-1983 comprised some 650 men and officers and seven patrol vessels. Although established on December 12, 1964, the first anniversary of the republic, the navy became substantially operational only in 1967 when the first 10 Kenyan cadets reported for duty after graduation from the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, England. Three new vessels were delivered from British shipyards that year (replacing a submarine chaser on loan from the Royal Navy). Command of the navy was assumed by a Kenyan naval officer, who replaced a seconded British officer on November 1, 1972. Service of the Royal Navy Training Team was terminated by the end of the year.

The navy was primarily engaged in patrolling coastal waters to deter smuggling and poaching. Because of the small size of its vessels, however, the navy was not thought to be fully capable of patrolling to the limits of the new 200-nautical-mile limit, particularly during the monsoon season. Naval operations were also complicated by constant changes in charted waters caused by the growth of coral reefs and alteration of the coastal contours resulting from a gradual seaward intrusion of mangrove forests as much as two kilometers in places.

At independence in 1963, the need for a navy as part of the national defence force was identified. The planning for implementation of the Kenya Navy was initiated under agreement With the British government when it was agreed to form a small but efficient naval service utilizing the facilities at the former Royal Naval Armament.

On 12 December 1964, President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta formally inaugurated the Kenya Navy. However, the launch was on December 16, 1964. During this occasion, President Kenyatta described the formation of the Navy as a ceremony marking the completion of Kenyas pattern of defence.

Initially, all officers serving in Kenya Navy Were on loan from the Royal Navy until 1966 when the first midshipmen reported for duty after completing their UK training. The Royal Navy also loaned a training ship, HMS Aberford, which was later renamed KN S Nyati. Two boats and motor cutters were used for training the young seamen.

Since its formation, the Kenya Navy has been called upon on numerous occasions to provide assistance both locally and internationally. In 2012, the Navy played a key role in serving as the launch platform of the Kenya Defence Forces troops who liberated the port city of Kismayu from the Al Shabaab militia.

Navy divers have carried out excavation at Fort Jesus in Mombasa. In 1980, the divers recovered a civilian vehicle at Chinga Dam in Nyeri District. In 1981, Navy divers were deployed to salvage a National Youth Service vehicle at Garrisa Bridge in the North Eastern province. In 1985, the Navy divers were engaged in the search for weapons and arms in Rongai Dam in Nakuru district. In 1986, Navy divers were once again called upon to salvage a Tanzanian dhow at Shelly Beach.

In April 1994, the Kenya Navy was tasked to rescue people and recover bodies from the ill-fated sunken MV Mtongwe ferry, which went down with over 270 passengers on board.

Due to the threat of spillover effects from fighting in Somalia, the Government of Kenya viewed effective border control as its top national security concern. After a joint exercise with Kenya in 2005, Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) determined that the development of a KNAV special boat capability would significantly improve the organization's effectiveness and maritime border security. To achieve this end state SOCCENT deployed a Naval Special Warfare Task Unit (NSWTU), approximately 20 personnel, to advise and assist KNAV to develop a Special Boat Unit (KSBU). This NSWTU has maintained a permanent presence at the KNAV base in Manda Bay since its arrival in 2004. Since then, this effort has trained over 200 Kenya Navy personnel in small craft operations through the Comprehensive Maritime Security Initiative course (CMSI).

The Kenya Navy's (KNAV) operational focus was on controlling maritime traffic moving between Somalia and Kenya. By 2009 it employed four 25-foot Defender class response craft to conduct patrols and interdictions along its northern coast. Operations were run out of a forward operating base in Kiunga, a small town six kilometers south of the Somalia border, and supported from larger KNAV bases in Manda bay and Mombasa. In February 2007, in response to heavy fighting in southern Somalia, KNAV conducted over 200 boardings from the Defenders in Somali coastal waters. The employment of the KSBU consisted of daily patrols along the border with Somalia to deter threats moving through Kenya's territorial waters and maintaining security for the local population.

KNS Jasiri took part in the battle for the Somali port city of Kismayo, which was preceded by shelling from Kenyan Navy warships throughout September, with main strikes occurring on 25 September 2012. Three days later, Kenyan troops landed in Kismayo aboard five vessels, the KNS Nyayo, KNS Umoja, KNS Galana, KNS Shujaa and of course the KNS Jasiri, while ground troops surrounded the town. The vessels also transported vehicles, ammunition and guns. Hours after Kenyan forces entered Kismayo, al Shabaab militants announced on September 29 that they had abandoned the city, their last major bastion in the five-year fight against African Union and Somali government forces.

Like other armed forces in the world, Kenyas military has two sets of officers commissioned and non-commissioned. The non-commissioned officers provide the vast ranks of the foot soldiers and servicemen while the commissioned officers provide the leadership ranks up to General, the highest rank. The navies of Kenya and Brunei are unusual in that they have army ranks even though they have naval uniforms, including naval rank insignia (except that Brunei's navy has army NCO rank insignia).

The non-commissioned officers beginning with the lowest are:

  1. Private
  2. Senior Private
  3. Corporal
  4. Sergeant
  5. Senior Sergeant
  6. Warrant Officer 2
  7. Warrant Officer 1
The officers, from the lowest to the highest are:
  1. 2nd Lieutenant
  2. Lieutenant
  3. Captain
  4. Major
  5. Lt Colonel
  6. Colonel
  7. Brigadier
  8. Major General
  9. Lt General
  10. General

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