The Tunisian Ministry of Defence (MoD) on April 21, 2021 attended the launch ceremony of the patrol Boat “El Jem” at the port of Sfax. A total of seven Istiklal class Patrol Boats have been ordered the Tunisian MoD. The Istiklal class was built in collaboration between the MoD and the Tunisian shipbuilding company SCIN. Tunisia unveiled its second locally-manufactured patrol boat in the eastern port city of Sfax.
The first boat, the prototype Istiklal P201 was launched in 2015 and the Tunisian Navy has already taken delivery of two boats, the P211 “Utique” and the P212 “Kerkouane”. The 5th boat P214 “Doga” will be launched later this year and construction will be completed. The Istiklal class boats would improve the Tunisia’s maritime capabilities.
The Istiklal class patrol boats have a length of 27.5 meters, beam of 5.8 meters, and draft of 1.26 meters. The type is armed with one 20 mm gun and two 12.7 mm machine guns. Its maximum speed is 26 knots, with a range of 600 miles. The Istiklal class boats are manned by 18 personnel including three officers. The cost of building the ship domestically was 40 percent less than if it had been purchased from a foreign manufacturer.
Established in 1959, the Tunisian Navy (Marine nationale tunisienne) initially received French assistance, including advisory personnel and several small patrol vessels. The most important additions to the fleet in the 1980s were three La Combattante III class fast attack craft armed with Exocet surface-to-surface missiles. Apart from these vessels, however, most of the fleet’s units were old and capable of little more than coastal patrol duties.