Murray Town, Freetown, Monday 24 April 2023 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has commissioned a brand new 26.7-meter-long Mammy Yoko offshore navy patrol vessel with a 14.5-mm calibrated weapon with an endurance of a week at sea.
The vessel is a gift from the People’s Republic of China to the Government of Sierra Leone as a result of the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries, which has been strengthened by His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio and President Xi Jinping of China in the last five years.
President Julius Maada Bio extended the country’s profound gratitude to President Xi Jinping and the government and people of the People’s Republic of China for cementing the two countries’ bonds of solidarity and mutual cooperation.
“We appreciate the long-standing friendship that is based on mutual trust, respect, and the major pursuit of a shared future. With the support and cooperation of the People’s Republic of China, we have pursued an agenda of multilateralism, peace, stability, and mutual cooperation in making progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Since 1971, the government and people of the People’s Republic of China have provided substantial development support in areas of infrastructure, agriculture, education, technical training, healthcare, electricity, small-scale manufacturing, diplomacy, direct foreign investment, and security, among others.
“The delivery of engineering equipment, the overseas training, and the medical mission that have significantly enhanced the capacity of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, RSLAF, for purpose and many more interventions in the security sector, permit me, through the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, to unreservedly thank President Xi Jinping and the government and people of the People’s Republic of China,” the President said.
The President recalled how in 1986, the People’s Republic of China, through the Shanghai Class Two project, offered Sierra Leone an offshore patrol vessel, demonstrating how far the two countries had enjoyed a mutual bilateral relationship, an indication of how positively and consistently China had been committed to developing the country’s Marine Time Wing of the RSLAF.
“This offshore patrol vessel is in line with my government’s 2018 manifesto commitment. This gift today is particularly significant because it strengthens our offshore capacity in a number of significant ways. It supports the blue economy agenda as laid out in our country’s development plan as it augments our marine time wings’ ability to monitor and surveil our territorial waters, including our country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Sierra Leone has been struggling to control illegal, unreported, and unregistered fishing on our territorial waters.
“This offshore capacity will obviously reduce the risk and deter those crimes in our marine time domain. Also, as part of our regional initiative to keep the Gulf of Guinea secure, Sierra Leone participated in the ECOWAS Multi-Countries Support to West Africa Integrated Marine Time Security Program.
“This patrol vessel will reduce the risk of shipping and reduce the cost of shipping to the nation, it will boast the country’s offshore capacity, search, and rescue, enable our water to be safer, enable the wing to respond to stress calls, and provide other advantages to the nation,” the president explained.
He added that the gifted C-class patrol craft was an icon of robustness and fortitude and was truly a thing of beauty as she effortlessly and gracefully sat atop and dominated the waves.
“As Commander-in-Chief of the RSLAF, it is, therefore, my singular honour to admit Navy Patrol Boat PD 106 into the operational fleet of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces as Madam Yoko,” the President concluded.
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Sierra Leone, Wang Qing, said the gift to Sierra Leone was a demonstration of the shared views both countries enjoyed in their longstanding friendship and cooperation in the military-to-military sector. He said the strategic guidance from the two presidents had led to the vessel and other good, friendly gifts.
“His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio, I would like to congratulate you on this memorable event and for your steward’s leadership, strategic guidance, and personal attention to enhance the friendship and cooperation between our two countries. I want to appreciate our Chinese military team, who, since the arrival of the vessel has been in the country to share expertise with the Sierra Leone Navy on how to operate the vessel and the machine in the best way professionally.
“Since President Bio’s safe visit to China in 2018 to date, both leaders have promoted the bilateral relationship to a higher level that gears towards promoting a south-south relationship based on mutual trust. We support each other to overcome all challenges in the new era of development, and Sierra Leone will continue to be the strongest and most reliable partner of China,” he reiterated.