By Mr. Wayne V. Hall (USF-I, DCG A&T PAO)October 3, 2010
BAGHDAD - The Iraqi Navy commemorated a number of recent significant milestones of continued growth during the Iraqi Navy Day celebration at Umm Qasr Naval Base Sept. 26.
The day's events included a pass-in-review of the newest 177 graduates, a parade of the Iraqi Navy fleet and the grand re-opening of several parts of the Umm Qasr Naval Base that have recently been improved or upgraded.
A christening ceremony for Iraq's inaugural Swiftships patrol boat was also highlighted in the ceremony. Fourteen additional U.S.-built Swiftships scheduled for delivery to the Iraqi Navy in the future.
The Iraqi Navy is currently undergoing a rapid fleet modernization program, and the Swiftships boats are the third class of patrol boats added to the Iraqi fleet in as many years.
"Today, the first patrol boat from United States reached Iraq to complete our youthful naval fleet, which secures the first phase of forming our Navy Force at the end of 2011," said Iraqi Minister of Defense Abdul Qader Mohammad Jassim.
In October 2008, the first of the 26 Defender-class patrol boats arrived at Umm Qasr, followed by four Italian-built 700-series patrol craft in 2009.
In order to accommodate its rapidly-growing navy, Iraq is in the process of a significant effort to upgrade and increase the Umm Qasr Naval Base's infrastructure. Nearly $100 million is being spent on a number of major projects.
An expansion of the seawall, located on the edge of the base, was opened as a part of Navy Day activities. The completed seawall expansion will increase the number and types of ships the Iraqi Navy can incorporate into its inventory.
Another significant improvement is a floating pier. Once complete, this pier will support Iraq's Defender-class vessels, as well as future classes of small combat vessels. It will also free up valuable mooring space along Umm Qasr's already crowded piers.