German warship docks at Dar port

BY GIZA MDOE

When ships send a distress signal to the German frigate (medium size warship) FGS Augsberg, pirates in the vicinity scamper away leaving crew and property safe, for the moment.

It is this fear instilling warship that has docked on berth 2 of the Dar es Salaam port and on Monday night held on board farewell event for the outgoing German ambassador Klaus Peter-Brandes.

In his speech, ambassador Klaus highlighted the progress made by Tanzania during his term in the country noting that it is remarkable that so much has been achieved in such a short time.

He was speaking in reference to the vast infrastructure construction projects currently going on in the country. In fact for the first time in the history of Tanzania the Ministry of Energy and Minerals budget estimates will be spending over 60 per cent of its budget in development expenditure.

“It is a good indicator of positive progress and good governance…we look forward to strengthening our countries’ relations, a task my successor will be sure to meet and deliver,” said the diplomat who has inaugurated many of the German assisted projects ranging from water accessibility to road construction and from education improvement to military safety both on land and as displayed by the docked German warship that carries two fighter choppers.

The German warship FGS has been a leading force in deterring piracy along the East African coast particularly of Ethiopia and Somalia. The ship has offered training to navy personnel in both countries and Tanzania and military personnel are also expected to do similar drills aboard FGS Augsberg.

“We are honoured to have this opportunity and we expect to benefit a lot from it,” Brigadier General AA Mwemnjudi of Tanzania Naval Operations and Training Officer said. He was speaking during the Monday night function aboard the warship.

“We must secure our country’s waters and air…we are happy to work together and exchange experience and techniques for the wellbeing of our people,” he added.

“We will continue to work together to secure the safety of travelers and their property as well as cargo vessels…we will assist partner states in training and exchange of experience,” pledged Commander Bernhard Veitl of the German warship.

The fully armoured warship carries rocket launchers that fire at an accuracy of 99 per cent at moving targets including jets or helicopters. With up to 219 trained and armed personnel the ship has deterred many piracy activities as well as illegal fishing boats and smugglers.

Also the FGS runs a chat room, the Mercury Chat, operated by the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) of the European Union.

Civilian merchant ships may register and log on to the MSCHOA chat room, and thus be in direct contact with staff at the Operation ATALANTA Operation HQ in Northwood.

The purpose of the chat room is to promote the exchange of information, pass on warnings and also instructions for action in a threat or crisis situation. This facility is an important instrument for improving security at the Horn of Africa.

Also aboard the ship are two fighter helicopters, fitted with external machine gun carries, radar detectors and with the capability of launching torpedoes that submerge up to 60 metres below water surface level, offer extensive security and aide all along the troubled coast.

“…we also give help to people in trouble…we fly and carry them to aid,” explained one of the military personnel.

Asked about the graffiti, a depiction of a character and ship from the award winning movie Pirates of Caribbean, with a chuckle the petty officer said, “…now we are hunting Pirates of the Indian Ocean.”

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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