Forces: Iraqi Navy Grows In Italy


March 16, 2006: The Iraqi navy is growing slowly. Before 2003, the navy had only 2,000 personnel, and few ships in working order. As of early 2006, there are 700 personnel and 32 boats. These include three 93 foot long Al Faw patrol boats, five 84 foot long Predator patrol boats from China, and 24 speed boats (of various makes) equipped with light machine-guns and whatever other weapons the crew is carrying. The size of the navy will be increased substantially when Italy finally delivers four corvettes that were ordered in the 1980s, but were not delivered by the time the 1991 arms embargo went into effect. These Lupo class ships are 352 feet long, displace 2,600 tons and have a crew of 195. The ships are armed with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, torpedoes, a five inch and two 40mm guns and a helicopter. While dated, the ships are in good shape, although it will take nearly a year to get the Iraqi crews trained. Italy is refurbishing the Lupos. Three more Al Faw class boats are on order, as well as two 192 foot long Assad class patrol boats. The navy has also been training over a hundred sailors to act as marine infantry, when operating patrol boats on river patrols.


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