Africa-Press – Kenya. For 10 years now, Kenya Navy officers have braced the harsh ocean conditions to protect the country as well as its neighbouring Somalia which has been under attack from Al Shabaab.
The officers disclosed, according to NTV, that for a majority part of that period, the operation had been kept secret and took place deep into the sea beyond the human gaze.
Speaking to the press, Lieutenant Onesmus Katiwa noted that the officers were based in Kismayu and tasked with intercepting sea vessels that could be carrying potential terror weapons.
He further noted that navy boats carried their operations day and night with the aid of choppers from the Kenya Air Force.
“Our main task here is intercepting all inbound and outbound vessels including fishing vessels, speedboats and Cargo Merchant ships. We also conduct maritime security operations which include protecting vessels externally and internally from sea-based terrorists such as piracy, hijacking and human trafficking,” stated Katiwa.
The team is also tasked with sharing its findings with the Somali Security Forces and Kismayu Port Police under whose jurisdiction they operate.
The journey to securing Kismayu from Al Shabaab grip began with training for KDF officers, including Kenya Navy, in 2011.
The intense training titled Operation Sledgehammer, took place in Baringo County, Rift Valley before deployment.
Since the Port of Kismayu was secured in October 2012, the navy has been working hand in hand with the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and Ethiopian Forces to secure the city which is the main sea entry point into the war-torn country.
KDF Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Godfrey Owuor noted that the state was impressed with the officers’ progress in Somalia.
“We are very impressed by the achievement so far and we believe that when they take the same stride, we will see a completely peaceful Jubaland and Kismayu in the next 10 years,” he stated.
This comes even as pressure mounts for KDF to withdraw their troops from Somalia owing to threats directed at Kenya as a result of their engagement.
In the last 10 years, Al Shabaab has lodged over four attacks in Kenya including Westgate Mall, DusitD2, Mpeketoni and Garissa University.
Below is the video:
Kenya Navy special boat units patrol the seas, day and night, with air support from Kenya Airforce fighter piloted helicopters, to repulse the enemy and move the danger away from the port.#SecuringSomalia @leilakhatenje pic.twitter.com/JHFykfzYP7