With this month’s acquisition of nine Chinese patrol boats, Cambodian waters will be safer for oil companies and others seeking to do business there, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday.
Delivering an opening address to a seminar on maritime security hosted by the Australian Embassy, Hun Sen said Cambodia’s navy had long been weaker than its neighbors, bringing the risk of piracy.
“A few years ago, I was very concerned that Vietnam and Thailand have good naval forces while our navy lacked resources and that someday pirates and terrorists might think Cambodian seas are safe for them,” he said.
“Because of this thought, I went to China to seek boats for our navy after the ships from Russia had become old,” Hun Sen said.
With a reported cost of $60 million, the nine patrol boats were officially handed over Nov 7 at a ceremony in Sihanoukville attended by Chinese and Cambodian officials.
Defense Ministry officials in August announced their intention to triple the size of the Cambodian navy in an effort to safeguard future oil installations in the Gulf of Thailand.
Prior to the boats’ purchase, officials had acknowledged in recent years that Cambodia’s small naval fleet was in disrepair and largely unseaworthy.
The National Assembly in June passed an antiterrorism law drafted with Australian assistance that provides prison terms for attacks on offshore petroleum assets.
“The upgraded Cambodian navy does not threaten other countries, rather we are participating in the fight against terrorism,” Hun Sen said. He also called on the navy to be sparing in its consumption of fuel.