The Honduran military expects to add several vessels to its fleet for multi-purpose missions in 2019.
The Honduran Naval Force (FNH, in Spanish) bought two Multi-Mission Interceptor 35 (MMI 35) speedboats from Colombia’s Science and Technology Corporation for Naval, Maritime, and Riverine Industry Development (COTECMAR, in Spanish) to strengthen its maritime shield in the Caribbean against narcotrafficking and transnational crime. The vessels will help conduct border protection and port security operations and stop illegal migration and smuggling in territorial waters.
“We will continue to strengthen security operations in the fight against emerging threats; this is only the beginning of a process that pursues major results,” Honduran Minister of Defense Fredy Santiago Díaz told the press. “We acknowledge Colombia’s contribution so that Honduras can achieve its goals, not only through logistics support, but also to obtain new capabilities in the fight against transnational crime.”
SAFE Boats International, a strategic partner of COTECMAR, will build the boats in 12 months. “The boats will allow FNH to conduct a wide range of counternarcotics missions, with a range of up to 250 nautical miles. The cooperation agreement is just another indication that the relationship between Honduras and Colombia seeks to counter threats against our people to achieve peace,” said Colombian Navy Vice Admiral Javier Díaz Reina, president of COTECMAR, during the signing of the agreement in late October.
SAFE Boats International and COTECMAR co-produce equipment since March 2017, among those are the Defender, Apostle, Full Cabin jet boats, and the MMI 35 Honduras bought. “With the two rapid-response units for the Honduran Naval Force, we will help meet our security goals, and soon we will celebrate the delivery of both platforms,” said Vice Adm. Reina.
FNH will concentrate the use of the ships for interdiction, narcotrafficking, smuggling, search and rescue, evacuation, casualty evacuation, and other humanitarian support operations. “With these vessels we will confront narcotrafficking, and support different missions planned at the regional level,” Maj. Gen. Díaz said.
Honduras leads a frontal battle in the Atlantic Ocean to intercept countless speedboats, semisubmersibles, and large ships that attempt to transport drugs to the United States. This effort will grow with the acquisition of the MMI 35 interceptors that feature a special technology to improve performance, increase speed, and reduce fuel consumption during operations. Their design provides stability and better maneuverability when making close turns at high speed. The cabin is equipped with a navigation system consisting of UHD (ultra-high-definition) digital radar, three multifunctional screens with 3D graphics environment and satellite photography, as well as GPS.
The MMI 35 vessels are the second order Honduras made to COTECMAR. The first was delivered in November 2017, when the Naval Force received the logistics support and cabotage vessel Gracias a Dios, which can transport up to 210 tons of cargo and has a 40-day autonomous range on open seas. The ship is used for humanitarian missions due to its power and versatility. It can deploy in hard-to-reach areas or places that lack piers.
In 2018, FNH carried out more than 3,300 maritime operations. With the acquisition of the MMI 35, service members expect to disrupt transnational crime rings and reduce the violence derived from narcotrafficking in coastal areas.