BEIRUT — Lebanon’s Navy is expected to receive this year multi-purpose boats from Italy and Protector-class coastal patrol boats from the United States, but the country still hopes to revive frigate negotiations with Italy.
Last month, the Lebanese Navy received a donation from Italy of a 12-meter-long multi-purpose boat known as a Rigid Inflatable Boat, an 8000-liter fuel tanker and two 20-passenger vans.
“A similar donation is expected to be received during July 2022. The Navy also expects to receive a donation [of] 100,000 Euros worth from the Italian side for the maintenance of the Multi Beam Echo Sounder and the updating of the software used in the production of nautical charts,” Navy Commander Senior Capt. Haissam Dannaoui told Defense News.
However, Dannoui said no agreement has been reached with the Italian government about a potential donation of frigates.
“The project of frigates provided as an Italian donation has not yet taken shape, and the detailed specifications of these frigates have not been discussed,” he said. “If the situation in the country improves, the Navy aspires to re-launch this project and to set the detailed specifications for such boats.”
Members of the Lebanese Naval Forces conducted training on two U.S. Coast Guard ships at the Beirut Naval Base earlier this month, according to the Lebanese Army official website. The website said this was “training members of the Naval Forces to use boats that will be a donation to the navy during 2022.”
Dannoui told Defense News the Navy is set to receive from the United States “three Protector-class boats, 27 meters long each, with a total weight of 93 tons. These boats are considered as coastal patrol boats that contribute to enhancing the ability of the navy to carry out the tasks assigned to it.”
He said the exercises taking place with the two U.S. ships included those focused on sharing experiences in the field of damage control on board boats, exchanging experiences in the field of search and rescue and a workshop on boats donated by the American side.
Dannoui said the Protector-class vessels are expected in late 2022 or early 2023.
In May 2021, the U.S. Defense Department notified Lebanon of planned delivery in 2022 of the three Protector-class patrol boats. The ships will help counter regional threats and keep maritime passages open, the U.S. State Department said in a statement after the first Defense Resourcing Conference to discuss deepening the two countries’ security collaboration.
Additionally, “the Navy will receive [eight] US interceptor boats Safe 44 variant, and we are in the process of continuously developing our capabilities in order to establish total control over our national waters,” Dannoui told Defense News.
Agnes Helou is a Middle East correspondent for Defense News. Her interests include missile defense, cybersecurity, the interoperability of weapons systems and strategic issues in the Middle East and Gulf region.