The US government on Tuesday gave six Metal Shark boats to the Kenya Navy to help fight terrorism.
The six boats, which are part of the 10 provided through a Sh500 million grant from the US Department of Defence, were delivered to the Kenya Navy at the Mombasa port by ambassador Robert Godec.
The boats represent the largest US maritime security cooperation programme in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The United States values the Kenyan commitment to building a more peaceful and secure Kenya and East Africa region,” a statement from the embassy said.
The Metal Shark boats will reinforce the Kenya Navy’s maritime security awareness capability and support plans to expand the blue economy.
The boats have a capacity to operate “in the challenging equatorial maritime environment, while simultaneously being rugged enough to endure extended operations with minimal maintenance”.
“They will bolster the Kenya Navy’s capability to deploy rangers and other quick reaction forces from the sea and to patrol and defend the more than 500km maritime border. They will help the Kenya Navy, and KDF (Kenya Defence Forces) at large, to continue forward in the fight against terrorism,” Mr Godec said.
“Today we reaffirm that the United States is and will remain your steadfast partner in the fight against terrorism and extremism.”
The Metal Sharks, he added, would bolster the Kenya Navy’s capacity to combat Islamist militants Al-Shabaab, “an effort that will bring about a more stable and peaceful East Africa”.
The US Navy and the Kenya Navy have been partnering for more than 40 years.
Since 2003, the US Department of Defence has provided Kenya with more than Sh1.7 billion of hardware assistance and training equipment, Sh300 million of professional development and Sh100 million of maintenance upgrades for naval equipment.
Mr Godec visited a school in Bangladesh slums, the East African Tea Trade Association offices and Cargill Company — which is one of the largest tea exporters in the world.
He said the US is supporting the automation of tea auction in Mombasa.
“Kenyan tea is the best in the world. The US provides a lot of support that includes provision of additional support to automate the auction system,” the envoy said.
“It is important to think about how we can work together to increase tea export.”