Iraqi Navy received the first two U.S.-made vessels on Thursday (December 2012) meant to boost it defense capacity and secure the country's largest oil and commercial port of Basra.
The handover ceremony at a naval base in Umm Qasr port, south of Basra, was attended by Iraqi and U.S. military commanders and officials.
"We are proud of this historic moment in building the heroic Iraqi naval forces, we came here today to congratulate the commanders and soldiers on the occasion of receiving the vessels al-Fayha and al-Basra that are part of the contract signed between Iraq and the United States, to boost the maritime units and to offer logistical support to protect Iraq's waters night and day, which are considered a vital tributary for Iraqi economic materials for import and export,'' said Iraq's army chief of staff LT. General Babaker Zebari.
In 2009 Iraq and the United States signed a contract worth 113 million U.S. dollars to supply Iraqi Navy with vessels and provide training for crews.
''Receiving naval vessels has to be simultaneously accompanied by good and continuous training of the crews to raise the level of their efficiency. This is what our command did as all our personnel has been trained locally and abroad on all vessels contracted for,'' said Iraqi Navy commander admiral Ali Hussein.
After the fall of Saddam's regime in 2003 Iraq is looking to rebuild its forces and increase its defense capabilities with substantial assistance from the U.S. Iraq is expected to complete rebuilding its armed forces by 2020.
Basra is the main port of Iraq and two-thirds of Iraq's oil output came from southern fields and flowed through Basra. Barrels of oil shipped through Basra provide the bulk of the central government's revenues.
Over the past four years Iraq has signed a series of deals with international oil firms to develop its vast oil reserves in a bid to boost output potential to 12 million bpd from around the current 2.7 million.