Sierra Leone was gifted four speedboats by the government of South Korea for enhancing it’s maritime law enforcement activities.
The four speedboats were commissioned by the Sierra Leone president Dr Julius Maada Bio at the White Man’s Bay Navy Headquarters in Murray Town, Freetown on 22 October.
The Sierra Leone defence forces chiefs and the South Korean ambassador were present at the commissioning ceremony, with the Chief of Defence Staff General Sullay Ibrahim-Sesay disclosing that the new boats will boost the operational reach and capabilities of the Maritime Wing which is presently facing is a lack of proper training, financial resources and platforms.
He said the South Korean donation was delivered in time as the navy is struggling to secure its 200 km Exclusive Economic Zone against maritime crimes such as piracy, sea robbery and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
“The rule of law is being undermined and this gift of patrol boats will leverage the flexibility of our forces in delivering the two main objectives of protecting national security and supporting development,” Ibrahim-Sesay said.
Still at the commissioning, Commander of the Maritime Wing, Captain Navy Philip Juana, said that the role of the Navy is to protect the territorial waters of Sierra Leone and its ecosystem, adding that the task is difficult to perform because the military wing does not have the necessary platform to effectively function.
He explained that the boats have arrived at the right time and will be used to protect the country’s waters.
President Maada-Bio said the country will continue to explore areas of bilateral cooperation in defence with South Korea in terms of the Korea Africa Framework of Cooperation 2017-2021.
Sierra Leone loses an estimated $26 million every year to maritime vices says the President, “There are threats to national security, food security, economic development and daily livelihoods of people in fishing communities. Small nation’s like ours cannot afford the loss, and yet the costs are mounting daily,” he said.
The representative of the South Korean Ambassador, Kim Sung Nyeon, commended the President for his strong leadership, and that “Korea is proud to deliver four speedboats to Sierra Leone. It is our hope that today’s contribution will not only help Sierra Leone’s effort to build up its maritime capabilities, but it will also make our friendship grow stronger.”