March 3, 2011:
Bangladesh has bought seven 250 ton patrol boats from China. Two will be built in China, and five in Bangladesh. The 30 meter (93 foot) vessels are part of a two year old effort to rebuild the Bangladeshi Navy. The biggest problem Bangladesh has along its coasts is smuggling. Currently, the Bangladesh Navy consists of five frigates and about fifty (mostly elderly) patrol boats. Replacing the aging patrol boats with newer models is a major priority. China will be the source of most future acquisitions (to include three missile frigates, three large patrol vessels, 12 small patrol boats, two landing craft, four fast attack craft and possibly 2-3 submarines).
Last year, the U.S. Coast Guard donated 16 Defender-class patrol boats. These nine meter (26.5 foot) boats are powered by twin outboard engines, have a top speed of 85 kilometers an hour (and cruise at 65 kilometers an hour). The Defenders carry a crew of four, are armed with two machine-guns and can carry six passengers (or prisoners). They are excellent for patrolling the many river delta waterways on the Bangladeshi coast. The newly created Bangladesh Special Operations Force has adopted the Defender as their primary seaborne transport.
Bangladesh has also bought two Castle class patrol boats from Britain, for $2 million each. These 75 meter (246 foot), 1,400 ton ships are armed with a 30mm autocannon and four machine guns.
Neighboring Myanmar is the source of opium smuggling, some which is often carried out by Islamic radical groups, to provide cash for terrorist operations.