Cameroon’s navy will soon take delivery of the ex-French patrol vessel Dipikar, which has just finished its sea trials. The vessel was put through its paces in the Mediterranean between 21 and 27 November, Cameroon’s Navy said, and was visited by Chief of Staff of the Navy Rear Admiral Jean Mendoua. Further testing continued until 3 December.
The CNS Dipikar, formerly the French patrol vessel Grebe, was retired by France in 2010 and acquired by Cameroon. French company Sofema was tasked with refurbishing the vessel and delivering it to Cameroon. However, things did not go smoothly – in 2012 while being repaired in Bizerte, Tunisia, the vessel was delayed due to the turmoil caused by the Arab Spring and technical problems. Damage to its propulsion system meant further work was needed.
In November 2014 the vessel left Tunisia for southeastern France for further refurbishment work. After sea trials, the vessel is now ready for delivery but due to unfavourable sea conditions at this time of year, the Dipikar will be sent to Douala by cargo ship. Delivery should take place in late December/early January.
The Dipikar is 52 metres long, 9.8 metres wide and displaces 400 tons. It was built with a steel hull and aluminium superstructure. Crew complement is 20. The vessel can travel 4 500 miles and reach a speed of 18 knots, being powered by two SACM-RVR UD33V12 diesel engines delivering 4 800 hp.
It features a command and control system provided by Nexeya, electro-optical and other sensors, a dual 20 mm cannon, machineguns and a new 7.5 metre Sillinger rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB). This can be deployed from the back of the vessel.
Cameroon has strengthened its navy in recent times with additional vessels. Over the last five years this includes two P-108 patrol craft delivered from China’s Poly Technologies in 2014, a second hand OPV-54 patrol craft from France in 2014, a 23 metre Aresa 2300 landing craft and two 24 metre Aresa 2400 CPV Defender patrol boats in 2013. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, two Aresa-3200 patrol craft were delivered in 2014.
Cameroon’s navy is relatively well equipped in order to secure the country’s oil installations and prevent maritime crime and is optimised for coastal and river patrol, especially in light of rising levels of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. It has around 40 coastal, inshore and river patrol craft as well as several combat patrol vessels.
Culled from Defenceweb