News: Iraqis complete first dry docking procedure
Story by Spc. Timothy Koster
BAGHDAD – The Iraqi navy has taken its next step toward creating a self-sustaining fleet by dry-docking one of its Swift Patrol boats, in an effort to begin inspecting the ship’s hull, at Umm Qasr, Iraq Aug. 4th.
“Aug 4th was [a historic] day for Rear Adm. Ali, the head of the Iraqi navy and his sailors,” said Rear Adm. Kelvin Dixon, director of Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission – Navy/Marines. “It was a very big win for the Iraq navy dry-docking sailors who learned from our ITAM-N/M trainers and followed what they were taught to the tee. The end result was a perfect and safe dry docking evolution of the 35 meter patrol boat.”
The inspection of this Iraqi-owned and American-made Swift Patrol boat, named “PB 301,” included checking the boat’s underwater hull jointly by Iraqi engineers and U.S. Navy advisors. This is an important process to identify and prevent problems that could affect the service life of the ship.
Although it can be a dangerous and time consuming process, docking gives the repair team complete access to areas of the ship which were at one time hidden beneath the murky and sandy coastal waters.
Areas of concentration for maintenance when a boat comes out of water are the propeller, hull paint and marine growth.
“This event was very significant for Iraqi naval self-sustainment,” said Cmdr. Quintin “QB” Bell, commanding officer of the ITAM – N/M at Umm Qasr. “It demonstrates that the Iraqis can dock their own Swift Patrol boat without having to rely on a foreign shipyard. They'll save time and money by doing it themselves, and they will also be able to conduct the follow-on maintenance at their newly constructed and equipped ship repair facility.”
The capability to dock boats will also ensure it can keep its fleet afloat and protecting the country’s waters as often as needed.
“Ships need to be on patrol in order to provide security,” said Bell. “Speedy repairs mean more ships are available to patrol. The Swift boat docking capability puts a ship back to sea quicker because the docking and repairs are done at the Iraqi navy base. It dramatically decreases the amount of time that a boat is unavailable to the Iraqi navy for patrols.”