The Gambia is to receive three patrol boats donated by Taiwan on Friday in a ceremony to be attended by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said yesterday.
Winston Hu (胡正浩), deputy director-general of the ministry’s Department of West Asian and African Affairs, said the boats had already been delivered to Taiwan’s diplomatic ally on the west coast of Africa, one of the nation’s four allies on the continent.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) agreed to make the donation when he visited the Gambia in April last year and presented models of the boats to Jammeh when the Gambian leader returned the visit in June of that year.
According to the ministry, the vessels, which are about 10m long and carry a 12.7mm (.50 caliber) machine gun, are meant to replace four Seagull-class craft that Taiwan gave to the Gambia in 2009.
The two countries have been cooperating on maritime patrol capabilities and coastal defenses for years, with the four Seagull-class craft being integral to the Gambia’s maritime force, Hu said.
Hu said the three patrol boats would help the African country combat drug trafficking and other illegal maritime activities, as well as help enhance its coastal defenses because they are more agile and fuel-efficient than the Seagull-class vessels.