Iraq has commissioned the first in a fleet of new US-built patrol boats, the PB 301, to boost its naval capacity and secure key oil platforms at Umm Qasr Naval Base, south of Baghdad.

US commander Lieutenant General Michael Barbero said the navy would be capable of defending oil platforms, territorial waters and ports.

The crews for the new high-speed patrol boats are being trained in the US, with three set to arrive in December, and the remaining 11 next year.

The old Iraqi Navy was destroyed in the 1991 Gulf War and again in the 2003 invasion.

The navy re-established itself two years after the 2003 US-led invasion and currently has 47 vessels, according to Agence France Presse.