With its Complex Military Launchers, there is new hope for security in the Kenyan Coast.The Kenya Defence Forces, under the leadership of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), has been injected with fresh support, aimed at bringing down the Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab.

The docking of the Kenya Navy Submarine (KNS) Jasiri, Kenya’s largest and most sophisticated battleship, late August at the Mkunguni Navy Yard, signaled a new commitment by Kenya to bring stability in the war-torn Somalia.

The, Sh4.6 billion, vessel is expected to consolidate efforts to secure Kenya’s territorial waters. Kenya Defence Forces has already declared that KNS Jasiri’s arrival had boosted KDF’s capacity to defend the country and role within African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).

“Jasiri has capabilities that we did not have. If there are some people out there thinking they can come to our waters and worry us. Let them know that things can get very tough for them,” said General Julius Karangi, Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces.

The Machinery and Design
MV Jasiri weighs 140 tonnes, 85 metres long and 13 metres wide. The ship is fitted with long-range cannons, missile launchers, machine guns, sophisticated radar and communications systems. In addition, it is armed enough to function as an offshore patrol vessel. It is argued, that Jasiri, as the name insinuates, is among the best warships owned by navies in Africa with the exception of South Africa.

The ship is fitted with the most modern armor, to prevent damage when it hulls. It also enables one to stay alive longer. The ship has four different fields:
•    Deck Armor-which, provides defense against incoming high angle fire and dive bombs;
•    Belt Armor-which, provides defense against direct incoming fire
•    Bulge –which, provides defense against torpedo, and naval mine damage
•    The Bulk Head- which gives the hull stronger overall defense by increasing its Structural defense, and allowing one to maintain a higher cruising speed when damaged or crippled.

The Ammunition
One of the intrinsic features of MV Jasiri is its ability to be equipped with the best guns possible. Jasiri has three components including the Main guns Here, N, L and D types of guns are loaded. These guns offer a standard option of range and firepower.

  • The Long- range (‘L’)-These guns require a higher level than the other two guns and with that, offer the farthest range possible for this gun type.However, the reload times may be slightly higher than the other.
  • The Reloaded (‘D’)-The guns are more ideal for ‘spray and pray’ tactics, while they offer the fastest reload possible for its gun type, at the same time sacrificing range to obtain this ability.
  • Anti-Aircraft (‘A’)-The guns are specifically used to combat Aircrafts. Ironically, it does not do any damage to any Naval Vessel, enemy or friendly.

 

The Procurement process and Controversies
In 2003, the Government of Kenya entered into a contract with Euromarine Industries by which Euromarine would deliver an oceanographic survey vessel to the Kenya Navy for close to Sh4.6 billion. Construction started in March 2003 and officially launched to the sea in January.

However, the purchase of the ship was clouded by controversy, with lobby groups citing it as one of the Anglo-Leasing projects. This meant the ship had to remain docked in Spain for some years. The payment process was halted in June 2005 on allegations of corruption. In 2007,Parliament was informed that an amount of Sh1.55 billion had already been paid to the Spanish contractors, Euromarine.

Department of defense later resumed negotiation in 2007. Lobby groups criticized the process arguing that the procurement process was corrupt. The procurement process was again stopped over allegations of corruption. The supplier then sued the government over withheld payments.

Hopes dimmed February this year when negotiations between the Kenyan Navy and Euromarine broke down. The navy thus rejected the ship because much of the equipment on board was outdated. This insinuated that some of the machines were no longer functioning.

Instead, it was said, the vessel was going to be purchased by the Nigerian Navy. In May 2012, the Parliamentary Budget Committee recommended Sh3.6 billion payment for the contract entered in 2003 for construction of the ship. The ship docked in August 2012 at the Mkunguni Navy Yard.

Future Developments
Recently, the Kenya defense forces naval wing and the South African Defense Forces naval arm announced that they were planning to build armed naval ships to increase their maritime capability. Though the two defense departments are in the early stages of creating a partnership, there are high possibilities that the project will consummate and be rolled out in the coming few years.

It is expected that the two countries will use their key talents from the engineering fraternity. They are anticipated to come up with a comprehensive design, which will form a key foundation to the building of the navy ship. South Africa built a naval ship approximately three decades ago. The ship is still in use.

The South African nation is one of the defense equipment manufacturers in the world having successfully developed nuclear technology, armed personnel carriers, helicopters, and guns, among other defense equipment. According to South African defense officials, the East and South African maritime security requires real naval ships with capabilities of an air wing that can carry out operations from the sea.

Nuclear-powered ships

Why in Spain?

Historically, navy ships made in Spain tend to be fitted to operate in harsh landscapes, especially where the high water waves tend to slug enemy attacks. Currently, around ballistic- missile defense warships are being forward-deployed to Naval Station Rota, Spain, by 2015 as part of the Navy’s major plan to cushion Europe from nuclear missiles. The relocation of assets is as part of the grand United States’ ongoing effort to better position forces and defensive capabilities in coordination with European allies.

The cruiser Monterey was the first ship to deploy as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, a land- and sea-based network of radars and interceptors designed to counter ballistic missiles.

Somalia coastline is considered one of the world’s most dangerous stretches of water due to incessant pirate attacks. Demanding millions of dollars in ransom for captured ships and their crews, Somali pirates are intensifying operations not just off their own coastline, but further afield in the Red Sea.

With this new technology, relative calm will return in Indian Ocean. This means, firms will no longer incur high costs as far as ransoms to pirates and high insurance charges are concerned.

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Kenya Engineer is the definitive publication of Engineers in East Africa & beyond and the official journal of the Institution of Engineers of Kenya. Kenya Engineer has been in publication since 1972.

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