Nine vessels of the Seychelles Coast Guard; four patrol ships and five fast response boats, along with two marine patrol aircraft, gathered off the island nation’s north coast on in a display of the country’s naval might. Beau Vallon beach, one of the island nation’s most iconic and popular beaches, was the setting of the Seychelles’ first Naval Fleet review, organized as part of activities to commemorate Defense Forces Day.
The Naval Wing Commander of the Seychelles Coast Guard, Lieutenant colonel Simon Laurencine has described the naval fleet review, which is practiced by navies worldwide traditionally to showcase their naval strength and evolution of their naval force, as an opportunity for the Seychellois public to see what the navy is about, what it does and what it posses in terms of assets.
The event also saw various displays or tactical formations by the patrol vessels and aircraft. According to Laurencine the naval officers had undergone three weeks of training to put up such a display. The event at the Beau Vallon Beach also featured an exhibition onshore where those present could have a closer look at what military work really entails while the Indian Navy also took the opportunity to present to the Seychelles Coast Guard a ‘fair sheet’ featuring preliminary hydrographic data gathered by Indian Naval Ship INS Darshak.
While search and rescue has remained one of the main responsibilities of the Seychelles Coast Guard with Seychelles being surrounded by over 1.3 million sq km of ocean, and with stories of fishermen lost at sea or boats in distress not being uncommon, in recent years the military force has had to deal with other pertinent issues including the scourge of piracy.
The Seychelles Air Force has played an integral role in air surveillance of the vast maritime zone, together with international partners such as India and the EU, in the fight against piracy. Seychelles having been at the forefront of the fight against piracy in the Indian Ocean since 2005, has also seen the island nation’s Coast Guard undertake at least three naval rescue operations at sea where hostages were rescued.
Although piracy is on the decline in the region, there are other maritime crimes that need to be tackled to ensure maritime security in the region, including illicit drugs and arms trade as well as human trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
“We are still working hard to ensure that our EEZ [Exclusive Economic Zone] remains a safe place for all sea farers provided that they are not doing anything illegal,” said Lt. Colonel Laurencine.