UMM QASR, Iraq - Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qader Obeidi and several other Iraqi, American and British military officials attended the Iraqi Navy Day celebration at the port of Umm Qasr Sept. 26., which included the commissioning of the Iraqi Navy's first 35-meter patrol boat.

Vice Admiral Kevin M. McCoy, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, and Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero, deputy commanding general for advising and training with United States Forces-Iraq, were present to see the first of 15 patrol boats scheduled to be transferred to the Iraqi Navy.

The occasion signified the working relationship between U.S. forces and the Iraqi Navy, working toward the new mission under Operation New Dawn.

"I am proud to be among the first to witness the historical arrival and commissioning of Iraq's first patrol boat," McCoy said. "This occasion reflects the important ties that bound our governments and our commitment to supporting a strong coalition partnership."

"Honor, courage and commitment," McCoy said, "these are the very ideals that will validate our future relationship with Iraq and its people, most especially with Iraqi Naval forces."

Iraqi Navy Day was a chance for the new navy crew to demonstrate tactical skills learned from their partners while training in the U.S.

"It's an opportunity for them to show off their principal achievements," said Commodore Tony Radakin, a native of Winchester, England, and the commander of Task Force Iraqi Maritime of the British Royal Navy.

Radakin was part of the coalition effort to protect Iraqi territory waters in 2003 and said he has watched the Iraqi Navy grow since.

"I am delighted to say I'm seeing that operational performance come together," said Radakin. "The Iraqi Navy has taken responsibility for the northern terminal and everything that we are seeing so far shows that they're on track to take responsibility."

Radakin said the Iraqi Navy is scheduled to take full responsibility for all its waterways sometime next year. Although they are a small force, the Iraqi Navy is responsible for defending the coast of Iraq from external threats and protecting oil terminals, which produce approximately 85% of the nation's gross domestic product.

Umm Qasr, which is located in the United States Division-South and 1st Infantry Division area of operations, is a major commercial port in southeastern Iraq where cargo ships dock. The port is vital to the Iraqi economy and serves as the home of the Iraqi Navy and its foreign training force.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16