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Libyan Navy - Modernization

By November 2012 Deputy Commander of the Libyan Navy Colonel Murafee Meftah Al-Saheli was said to be taking charge of the talks with the shipbuilders on a project to buy ten boats. The Libyan Navy is said to have begun a process to buy fast patrol boats to reinforce protection and surveillance along the Libyan coast. The MRTP-20 class fast interceptor boat of the Turkish Yonca Onuk JV and the FPB-98 MK1 patrol craft of the French boat builder OCEA were candidates. In May 2012 Libyan Defence Minister Osama Al-Juwaili was said to be working on a project to buy the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and other naval equipment for the Libyan Navy.

The navy under Gaddafi had always been dependent on foreign sources for equipment, spare parts, and training. In 1972 a British naval advisory mission that had assisted in the development of the Libyan navy since its founding was terminated. Training was shifted to Greece and to Egypt and later to the Soviet Union. The initial ship orders, placed with British yards, were for patrol boats and corvettes. The largest surface ship in the Libyan navy, a frigate of about 1,500 tons with a crew of 130, was ordered just before the 1969 coup and delivered in 1973. Later, high-speed patrol boats and corvettes equipped with surface-to-surface missiles were purchased from France, Italy, and the Soviet Union. Between 1976 and 1983, six Soviet Foxtrot-class submarines were delivered. Each required a crew of seventy-five; in addition, twelve Soviet advisers were reportedly assigned to each vessel.

Over recent years, the Croatian shipyards were increasingly becoming home ports for the overhaul of Libyan war ships, and a place where new patrol ships, designed by the company Adria Mar from Zagreb, were being built for the Libyan navy. In March 2004, in a show of resoluteness to begin cooperation with Libya, the overhaul of the Libyan ship "Al Mukaid" was taken on, after several years of waiting due to strong external pressures and the fearfulness of the Croatian leaders. This is a scientific-research-rescue ship which was built in the Kraljevica shipyard in the 1970s, and is the sister ship of the "Faust Vrancic 2" of the Croatian navy. After virtually thirty years of sailing, the ship requires an overhaul, and that is best conducted in the same shipyard where the ship was built. After this small job, worth $7.5 million, new orders for ship overhauls in the amount of over $120 million were expected.

From 2009 through 2001 Libya was to deliver another five rocket gunboats to Croatia for overhaul. The amphibious fleet was in a state of disrepair. Its role is uncertain in the current climate and unlikely to be a focus for new procurement action in the medium term. A full overhaul was undertaken for the two landing ships that Libya had forgotten and neglected. The landing ship at Kraljevica was in somewhat better condition, while the one in Trogir was already written off. Exactly after one year, repair works on Libyan Navy landing ship Ibn Haritha were completed in April 2009. For final testing of systems and newly installed MTU engines purpose, sea trials were held. After the repair works, the ship sailed at the maximum speed of 15.5 knots - the same as in 1975 when she was built.

In November 2006, discussions were reported between Libya, Constructions Mécaniques de Normandie (CMN) and Thales Naval France concerning a possible upgrade of Combattante II G-class fast attack craft. Libya was checking out the possibility of upgrading, in France, up to nine Combattante II G class fast attack craft. With the arrival of Laheeb (Combattante IIG class) and Ibn Haritha (LSTH PS 700 class) at Kraljevica in April 2008, Adria-Mar continued with the repair commissions for Libyan navy. Repair works for Ibn Haritha and Laheeb should be finished in 12 and 24 months respectively. Sea trials of Libyan navy Combattante II G class ship Laheeb were held on 22.9.2010. The vessel reached the speed of 38 knots during the trials. General overhaul of the vessel and all systems were finished earlier this month. This fast attack craft arrived in Croatia as a part of Adria-Mar Shipbuilding overhaul program for Libyan navy vessels.

Fast attack craft Laheeb was the first vessel of Combattante II G class that arrived in Croatia for general overhaul. Adria-Mar company signed the contract for overhaul, organized and managed entire process. The vessel was at arrival in a very neglected state, hardly capable of sailing. General overhaul included complete repair of hull in Kraljevica shipyard. Four main engines were overhauled at MTU factory in Friedrichshaven. Navigation, communication and weapon systems were repaired and renewed by PCE company from Split. During the sea trials engine power and speed were measured independently, as well as vibrations of the propulsion compound. Results showed that engines performed to designed value and that vibrations were inside recommended values.

It was unclear Ghaddafi might want to buy, since Libya was not lacking for money, but training and qualified personnel. If a tender for replacement of corvettes and FACs came out, the Russians may be expected to propose their latest 22080 or even Gepards. Libya could even buy Russian Kilo SSKs (or Lada class) since Libya used to have 6 Foxtrots. The Libyan's were so impressed with the Croatian patrol craft that they were looking to order a 60-82m Patrol Boat/Corvette with a displacement of 1000-1500 tons. By February 2009 the Croatian Adria Mar company was about to sign a contract for the construction of three 60 meter patrol ships (OPV60) for the Libyan coast guard, which will also carry a helicopter. Each ship is valued at EUR 30m. Adria Mar had also completed a design project for a 60 meter missile corvette (MCP60), which as of early 2009 was at the contract documentation stage, awaiting approval for financing from the Libyan navy budget.

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