The purchase of a new patrol boat which can travel long distances out at sea, is estimated to be costing the Armed Forces round €40 million. The call for tenders for the purchase of the boat will be issued next year. Meanwhile, the largest boat which the army has at the moment will stop being used as it requires extensive maintenance work. This patrol boat will be replaced by a large boat which the Irish Government gave to Malta and which will arrive by the end of this year.
To date, the Armed Forces has been using three patrol boats. The largest one, the P61 which has been in service for ten years, requires considerable maintenance on its engine. This work will cost around €7 million and was included in the list of capital projects which the Armed Forces will embark on with the help of EU funds.
The new patrol boat will also be bought from the EU’s Internal Security Fund and is expected to have the same capacities as the P61. Army sources said that the need for another boat of this size has long been felt by members of the army stationed with the Maritime Squad, in order to improve their resources as well as the relieve some of the pressure on the crew of P61, whose soldiers often have to work long hours. Home Affairs and National Security Minister, Carmelo Abela, said that until the boat is ordered and arrives in Malta, at least two years will pass which is why, as a temporary measure, they will be using the boat donated by Ireland.
“For the next two years, until the new boat arrives, we will be relying on the boat kindly given to us by Ireland after talks held with the Irish Defence Ministry. We have a good relationship with Ireland and we look forward to continue working with the Irish Government in this field, which includes the training of our soldiers as well as the training of their soldiers who can come to Malta for their training whenever they need”, said Dr Abela.
At the beginning of this year, this patrol boat marked 35 years of services with the Irish naval forces. This patrol boat requires a crew of 45 people, who are undergoing training in Ireland where the boat also underwent extensive maintenance worth half a million Euro as well as other improvements before it begins its voyage towards Malta.
Over a period of five years, the Armed Forces will have invested €75 million in capital projects with financial help from the EU. Even the Explosives Division will be benefitting from funds, including the purchase of a modern robot which comes with its own vehicle in which it is carried, which is estimated to cost 1.5 million Euros.