The good people of Morgan City, La., will be hearing a lot of “Who Dat?” in the coming weeks, as dozens of Iraqi naval sailors arrive later this month to learn to operate their new patrol boats. They’ll miss Mardi Gras, but son of a gun, they’ll have big fun on the bayou!
The first Iraqi Swift Boat PB 301 made its first machinery runs last week. Manufactured by Swiftships Shipbuilders LLC, the 35-foot Swift Boat achieved an average speed in excess of 34 knots (39 mph) at 84 percent installed power. The boats also have six 30mm gun weapons systems, machine gun mounts and cradles.
Swiftships Shipbuilders was awarded $180 million on Sept. 25 to build nine patrol boats, and will get another $23 million to train the Iraqi sailors. This is good news for U.S. sailors, who are one step closer to relinquishing their mission to protect oil-platforms in the Persian Gulf.
All U.S. troops are to leave Iraq by 2011 under current plans.