Twenty seven years after disbanding what was once a reputable naval force in Africa, in the years immediately before formal secession of Eritrea from Ethiopia in 1993, Ethiopia is plans to rebuild it.
In an interview with state newspaper, Addis Zemen, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian Armed Forces, General Berhanu Jula, says that Ethiopia is working on the idea of building stronger maritime forces. And it is going to be well trained and equipped with modern technology.
General Berhanu went on to say that it is a strategic decision as more countries, from Middle East and elsewhere, are establishing their naval bases in the region and that it is not in the right for a country with more than 100 million people not to have a naval base.
The Deputy Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian Defense Force is quoted by the ruling coalition’s social media engagement team as saying:
“We must show our influence around the sea. Different countries are coming from far and creating influences on the sea. We are a great nation with over 100 million people. There is no any reason Ethiopia remains landlocked.”
At what stage is the plan?
According to General Berhanu, consultation with other countries is underway regarding the structure and capacity, among other things, of the force to be reinstated.
The planned navy is to be based in the littoral parts of international waters of Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
It was Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who hinted first about Ethiopia’s desire to build a navy some time in June of this year. His administration has fostered cordial relations with Asmara and Mogadishu as economic and security cooperation came to be a focus for the countires in the region following the end of a state of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea in the month of June. Eritrean President Isayas Afeworki is expected to arrive in Ethiopia for a third time and unconfimed reports on social media say that Somalian President is joining Abiy Ahmed and Afeworki for a tripartite meeting.
History of Ethiopian Navy
The Imperial Government of Emperor Haileselassie established Ethiopian Navy as early as 1958, when most African countries were still under the yoke of colonialism, and it turned out to be one of the leading naval forces in the continent.
Under emperor Haileselassie Navy commanders were trained in the best naval academy in the United States.