The construction of one of the largest slipway in East Africa by the Kenya Navy is expected to be a major boost to maritime operations in the region.
The facility, which is being put up at the Mtongwe Navy Base in Mombasa, is one of the flagship projects in new plan to revamp Blue economy.
A slipway functions as a platform on which ships are secured and winched out of water into a working area for construction, repair, refitting and maintenance of sea vessels.
The slipway shipyard, which is a first in East Africa, will also be used to build, repair and maintain maritime vessels, according to the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).
During this week’s tour of the Coast region, President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the facility which is currently more than 70 percent complete.
“The President crossed Kilindini channel to the Kenya Navy Base in Mtongwe where the military is developing an ultra-modern slipway and shipyard,” State House said in a statement.
The project which is expected to be completed by June 2021 will be able to handle vessels with a capacity of up to 4,000 tonnes and measuring 150 metres high and 30 metres wide.
The ongoing construction of the facility comes even as the Kenya Navy puts more efforts in its Special Operation Squadron. The new members graduated recently at a ceremony held at the Kenya Navy Fleet Mkunguni, Mtongwe Navy Base in Mombasa County.
The commandos undertook training which covered amphibious operations, land warfare, close quarter combat as well as combat search and rescue.
“To combat terrorism, the trainees are equipped with necessary skills and capabilities...to enhance a secure and safe environment,” said the KDF in a statement.
The commandos are also expected to help create a stable environment fo the Blue economy, which is part of the national government’s Big Four agenda.
Their training was run by the Kenya Naval Training College.
“Commandos’ vessel had set sail for a long voyage destined for greater heights and there is no docking or looking back,” the commander, Major-General Jimson Mutai, said.
“The storms might be dense and the tides may rise but the unforgiving natural calamities will not distract our vision in realisation of the set goals.”
The Kenya Navy announced in June that the elite force was undergoing training to tackle global warfare at sea.
“The Marine Commandos will inject real time asymmetric tactics and operations to tackle enemy actions. They will augment the existing Kenya Navy Special Forces and continue protecting Kenya's maritime domain from external aggression,” KDF said in an earlier statement.
The Navy and the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS) have also increased patrols along the Indian Ocean coast to tame illicit trade. The targets include illegal fishing, drug trafficking and sea pollution.
President Uhuru Kenyatta established KCGS with the core mandate of securing Kenya’s territorial waters, safeguarding the ports and preventing dumping of harmful waste in the sea.
The service also ensures vessels, seafarers and all sea users have licences for their operations, whether work, leisure or business. It also offers search and rescue services and prevents illegal commercial activities like fishing, drug and human trafficking.
On Saturday, the KCGS Director General Brigadier Naisho Loonena led the destruction of illegal fishing gear in Port Victoria, Busia.
The equipment were nabbed in July during an operation dabbed “Operation Ondoa Uvuvi Mbaya on Lake Victoria” which is aimed at fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.