Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 April 2023:
Yesterday at Sierra Leone’s naval base in Murray Town, Freetown, President Bio put to sea a new 26.7 meter-long Mammy Yoko offshore navy patrol vessel with a 14.5-mm calibrated weapon and an endurance of a week at sea. The vessel has been donated to the people of Sierra Leone by China to help protect the country’s coastal waters.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Bio expressed the country’s profound gratitude to President Xi Jinping and the government and people of the People’s Republic of China for cementing the two countries’ bonds of solidarity and mutual cooperation.
President Bio said, “We appreciate the longstanding friendship that is based on mutual trust, respect, and the major pursuit of a shared future.”
“With the support and cooperation of the People’s Republic of China, we have pursued an agenda of multilateralism, peace, stability, and mutual cooperation in making progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
“Since 1971, the government and people of the People’s Republic of China have provided substantial development support in areas of infrastructure, agriculture, education, technical training, healthcare, electricity, small-scale manufacturing, diplomacy, direct foreign investment, and security, among others.”
“The delivery of engineering equipment, the overseas training, and the medical mission that have significantly enhanced the capacity of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, RSLAF, for purpose and many more interventions in the security sector, permit me, through the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, to unreservedly thank President Xi Jinping and the government and people of the People’s Republic of China.”
The President recalled how in 1986, the People’s Republic of China, through the Shanghai Class Two project, offered Sierra Leone an offshore patrol vessel, demonstrating how far the two countries have enjoyed a mutual bilateral relationship, an indication of how positively and consistently China has been committed to developing the country’s Marine Time Wing of the RSLAF.
“This offshore patrol vessel is in line with my government’s 2018 manifesto commitment. This gift today is particularly significant because it strengthens our offshore capacity in a number of significant ways. It supports the blue economy agenda as laid out in our country’s development plan as it augments our marine time wings’ ability to monitor and surveil our territorial waters, including our country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ. Sierra Leone has been struggling to control illegal, unreported, and unregistered fishing on our territorial waters.”
“This offshore capacity will obviously reduce the risk and deter those crimes in our marine time domain.” Also, as part of our regional initiative to keep the Gulf of Guinea secure, Sierra Leone participated in the ECOWAS Multi-Countries Support to West Africa Integrated Marine Time Security Program. This patrol vessel will reduce the risk of shipping and reduce the cost of shipping to the nation, it will boast the country’s offshore capacity, search, and rescue, enable our water to be safer, enable the wing to respond to stress calls, and provide other advantages to the nation,” the president explained.
“This gifted C-class patrol craft is an icon of robustness and fortitude.” It is truly a thing of beauty as she effortlessly and gracefully sits atop and dominates the waves. She reminded some of us of the attributes in things by the historical figure’s proclamation and mastered the forces raging against her. Whether it was cultural attitude, military, gender, or political wars against her.”
“As Commander-in-Chief of the RSLAF, it is, therefore, my singular honor to admit Navy Patrol Boat PD 106 into the operational fleet of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces as Madam Yoko,” the President said.
The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Sierra Leone, Wang Qing, said the gift of the vessel to Sierra Leone is a demonstration of the shared views both countries enjoyed in their longstanding friendship and cooperation in the military-to-military sector. He said the strategic guidance from the two presidents, His Excellency Xi Jing Ping and President Julius Maada Bio, has led to the vessel and other good, friendly gifts.
“His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio, I will like to congratulate you on this memorable event and for your steward’s leadership, strategic guidance, and personal attention to enhance the friendship and cooperation between our two countries. I want to appreciate our Chinese military team, who, since the arrival of the vessel has been in the country to share with the Sierra Leone Navy how to operate the vessel and the machine in the best way professionally.”
“China and Sierra Leone are two friends who trust each other and have had a good, earnest partnership since the establishment of a diplomatic relationship between the two countries, no matter the international situation.
“The government and people of the two countries have always been together in every crucial moment, as we believed that military cooperation exchanges relations; an important aspect of our bilateral relations, hence, has been deeply mutual based on our principle of mutual trust,” he revealed.
The Chinese Ambassador also said, “Since President Bio’s safe visit to China in 2018 to date, both leaders have promoted the bilateral relationship to a higher level that gears towards promoting a south-south relationship based on mutual trust.” “We support each other to overcome all challenges in the new era of development, and Sierra Leone will continue to be the strongest and most reliable partner of China.”