The Seychelles Coast Guard has formally received and commissioned into service its new Type 62 patrol boat Etoile.
The vessel was donated by the Chinese government to help improve the Seychelles’ naval capabilities and assist it in policing the nation’s 1.3 million square kilometre exclusive economic zone (EEZ). It was handed over to Seychelles foreign affairs minister Jean-Paul Adam and military top brass on April 29 at the Ile du Port base by Chinese ambassador Shi Zhongjun.
It was formally delivered on June 17 at the Seychelles Coast Guard base on Ile Perseverance after seven weeks of pre-commissioning activities in the Seychelles that included minor outfitting and crew training by a team of 18 Chinese naval personnel, IHS Jane’s Navy International reports.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, defence force chief Brigadier Leopold Payet described the delivery as “another milestone in the history of the SPDF [Seychelles People’s Defence Force] and the Seychelles Coast Guard in particular…The donation of the patrol vessel by China will boost our capability to better protect our maritime resources, effectively assist our mariners in distress and provide the much required security for all those who ply our waters. Such [a] state-of-the-art vessel [was] designed according to our requirements comes at a crucial and opportune time where our coastguard is actively engaged in combating crimes at seas.”
“This is a purpose built vessel for Seychelles and follows the visit that President James Michel made to China in 2011 where he shared with the Chinese authorities and at that time Vice President Xi Jinping, who is now of course the president of the People’s Republic of China, where he shared the concerns that Seychelles has with regards to the patrol and monitoring of its vast exclusive economic zone,” said Adam during the April handover.
Etoile was built by South China Repairs Shipyard in Guangzhou, according to the Seychelles Nation publication. Her keel was laid in March 2013 and she was launched on 24 October that year, with sea trials taking place in December.
Among other core duties, the new vessel will be used to protect the country's EEZ and fight piracy, drug smuggling, human trafficking and other maritime crimes on the high seas. As such, Etoile is equipped with a 6.5 metre speedboat that can be launched from the stern.
Ambassador Zhongjun praised Seychelles for being at the frontline in the fight against piracy and securing its maritime boundaries, adding China has a duty to assist in building the Seychelles Coast Guard's capacity to contribute to the stability of the entire Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The Seychelles has prosecuted 124 pirates to date.
The Type 62 Class (Shanghai II) is a 38.78 metre long vessel with a displacement of 135 tonnes. It is powered by two diesel engines with a combined output of 1 200 hp and two diesel engines which together produce 910 hp. This gives a top speed of 26 knots and a range of 750 nautical miles at 16 knots.
The latest donation follows the Chinese government's donation and delivery to the Seychelles of two Y-12 aircraft which were deployed on surveillance duties over the country's Exclusive Economic Zone.