Taiwan will donate three patrol boats to the Gambia to help the nation’s African diplomatic ally combat illegal maritime activity and enhance its coastal defenses, Hsu Mien-sheng (徐勉生), director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of African Affairs, said yesterday.
The boats, about 10m long and each equipped with a 12.7mm caliber machinegun, will be available to be delivered to the Gambia, located on the west coast of Africa, by early next year, Hsu said.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is due to present models of the patrol boats today to Gambian President Yahya Jammeh at a joint commencement ceremony for Taiwan’s military academies.
Jammeh is on a five-day state visit to Taiwan. He arrived on Tuesday, his ninth visit in the past 17 years, in a return visit for one made by Ma to the Gambia earlier this year.
Aside from receiving an honorary doctorate from the National Taipei University of Technology in Taipei on Wednesday, Jammeh will attend the commencement ceremony to congratulate three Gambian students who have completed student exchange programs at the nation’s military and naval academies this year.
The three patrol boats have been previously deployed off Kinmen and Matsu and have been undergoing restoration since Ma granted the donation after the issue was brought up during his visit to the Gambia in April, Hsu said.
Hsu said that the patrol boats will replace the four Seagull-class craft that Taiwan donated to the Gambia previously, which will be used as training ships as they are considered by Taiwan’s military personnel to be no longer capable of engaging in maritime patrols
The new, smaller patrol boats are more agile and consume less fuel, Hsu said.