The third and final launch of the Senegal Navy’s new offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) has been announced by the original equipment manufacturer Piriou on 2 May 2023.

The French shipbuilding company tweeted that the launching ceremony of the latest OPV, the vessel Cayor, took place at Concarneau in Brittany, France. After the Walo and the Niani, the Cayor is the third and last unit of the programme.

The deal that saw the delivery of the three OPVs was signed between the Ministry of the Armed Forces of Senegal and the Piriou Group on 17 November 2019.

The Piriou tweet announcing the launch ceremony of the Cayor OPV for the Senegalese Navy. Credit: Piriou twitter account.

The OPVs

It is claimed that the OPV 58 S is a 62 metre versatile and robust patrol vessel with high endurance that is dedicated to missions such as surveillance and sea control. This answers the various missions related to law enforcement at sea. In addition, the OPVs are also equipped with surface-to-air weapon systems, which enables first-rank deterrence.

The Senegal coast, in west Africa, experiences various security issues. Countering the growing threats of piracy, illegal fishing, drug trafficking, and illegal immigration requires smaller maneuverable vessels that can be rapidly deployed and can perform effective surveillance and monitoring roles.

Hence, the procurement of light combat vessels, including OPVs that are equipped with advanced weapons and communication systems, this area of light combat vessels is expected to increase globally. In fact, as the latest member of Nato, Finland has secured its border patrol vessels in the Baltic sea, where it defies the growing militarisation of Russia in the region.

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Growing trend for smaller vessels

Moreover, the US FY2024 budget for the US Navy indicates its strategy to commit to funding its weapons and concept capabilities – significantly more than its ship count, with its spending on destroyers registering a compound annual growth rate of 3.5% between 2023-33 – in order to maintain a competitive advantage.

This strategy relies on the production of less costly and quickly produced vessels on a smaller scale, such as the Senegal Navy’s new OPVs. Kitting these vessles out with advanced enhancements and firepower will enable navies to effectively deliver on their security commitments.