With help principally from the Soviet Union, the Algerian Navy underwent considerable enlargement and modernization during the 1980s. Its ambition was to develop a fleet of well-armed vessels that would enable it to deal with the Moroccan or Libyan fleet and permit Algeria to project naval power beyond its own coastal waters. As of 1993, the navy was reportedly interested in acquiring surplus vessels from West European navies for patrolling its 320-kilometer exclusive economic zone. These purchases, however, had not materialized by late 1993, probably owing to financial constraints.
In 1993 the naval complement of officers, enlisted personnel, and cadets was estimated at 6,700, with an additional 630 men in the coast guard. The latter group is part of the Ministry of Interior, although under the navy's operational control. All navy and coast guard personnel are volunteers. Previously, the commanding officer of the navy had held the rank of colonel; in 1992, however, a brigadier general, Chaabane Ghodbane, was named to the post.
Algeria received its first two submarines, Romeo-class vessels, from the Soviet Union in 1983. In 1987 and 1988, the country acquired two Kilo-class submarines, quiet-running, highspeed vessels armed with both torpedoes and mines, from the Soviet Union. The Romeos were retired for use as training ships. Two additional Kilo-class submarines are reportedly on order.
The largest surface vessels are three Soviet Koni-class frigates commissioned between 1980 and 1985. With 1,440 tons displacement, each frigate is armed with Gecko SAMs and four 76mm guns. Three Soviet Nanuchka II-class corvettes of 850 tons were delivered between 1980 and 1982. They are armed with Gecko SAMs and four surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs). New diesel engines are reportedly being installed on the corvettes after problems were experienced with the performance and reliability of their propulsion mechanisms.
In addition to the larger combat vessels, in 1993 the naval forces operated a number of fast-attack craft and some smaller units for coastal patrols. They included eleven former Soviet Osa I- and Osa II-class missile boats, each mounted with four Styx SSMs. The navy also possessed twelve Kebir-class fast-attack craft, each mounted with a 76mm gun. The coast guard was temporarily operating six of these. Designed by Brooke Marine, the first two were built in Britain and the remainder were assembled or built at Mers el Kebir with assistance from Vosper Thornycroft.
The fleet in 1993 boasted a modest amphibious capability, based on a Polish LCT (landing craft, tank) and two larger British-built landing ships acquired in 1983 and 1984. A maritime reconnaissance squadron with two Super King 200Ts had been assigned to the navy, although the squadron's personnel and aircraft came from the air force.
Algeria's naval academy at Tamentfoust near Algiers provides officer training equivalent to that of the army and the air force academies. The navy also operates a technical training school for its personnel at Tamentfoust. Some higher-ranking naval officers have taken advantage of training in France, Russia, and the United States. Principal naval bases are located near Algiers, at Mers el Kebir, and Annaba.
In addition to sixteen Italian-built light patrol craft, the coast guard in 1993 operated six Chinese patrol boats delivered in 1990; a seventh was delivered in 1992. In carrying out its coast guard duties, the navy coordinates its activities with elements of the Ministry of Interior, with the customs and immigration services, and the national police. Its goal is to prevent smuggling, the illegal entry of undesirable aliens, and other offenses in order to ensure the security of coastal areas.
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