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Oman Upgrades With New BAE Corvettes

October 21, 2013

ONS Al Rahmani-10a

Oman, arguably the most tranquil among the Gulf monarchies, now possesses the newest warship in the region.

In 2007, it paid $645,000,000 for three corvettes to augment the Royal Navy of Oman (RNO).

Thanks to its longstanding alliance with the UK, its main arms supplier, the lucrative contract was snatched by BAE Systems. The ships were dubbed the Khareef class after an initiative by the RNO.

In 2009, 2010, and 2011 all three ships were successively launched at a UK naval base/shipyard and underwent sea trials there. Part of the deal included having Omani crews train on the ships prior to their delivery. By June this year one of the ships was handed over to Oman.

By October 9, the first of the corvettes named the Al Shamikh arrived at the Said bin Sultan Naval Base and was received with an official ceremony.

The specifications of the Khareef-class represents the latest trends in warship engineering.

Modern corvettes are often marketed to smaller navies as ideal vessels that can perform different roles. The Khareef-class are no exception. Armed with a 76mm Oto Melara gun plus twin 30mm cannons, it deploys with a battery of Exocet Block 3 anti-ship missiles and Mica SAM‘s. The rear of the ship carries a flight deck, although no ASW helicopters were included in the original agreement with BAE.

Powered by twin diesel engines, a Khareef-class corvette can travel at 25 knots and remain at sea for a maximum of three weeks. Its maximum range is 4,500 nautical miles.

The RNO, as well as the rest of the kingdom’s military, is much smaller than its neighbors. Before the arrival of the Al Shamikh, the RNO’s only warships were two older corvettes acquired in the 1990s supported by smaller patrol vessels.

Under the longstanding rule of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the government has selectively purchased top shelf weapon systems for its defense needs, including a recent missile deal with the US.

Below is a press release from BAE Systems:

The Royal Navy of Oman (RNO) on Sunday organised a reception for Al Shamikh, the first of the three Khareef class warships built by BAE Systems under the sultanate’s Project Khareef

H E Sayyid Badr bin Saud al Busaidi, Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs, inaugurated the ceremony held at the Said bin Sultan Naval Base, where he, along with naval commanders, greeted the vessel upon its arrival to join the RNO fleet.

Speaking to the media, H E Busaidi said, “Today we celebrate the arrival of Al Shamikh into the waters of the sultanate, the first ship of Project Khareef, which would contribute to the strengthening of military capabilities and capacities of the Sultan’s Armed Forces (SAF) which enjoys the Royal care and attention of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.”

H E Busaidi also thanked RNO commanders, personnel and crew who were on Al Shamikh during its maiden voyage from the UK where she was built.

Capt Qasim bin Mohammed al Balushi, Commander of Al Shamikh, expressed his pride in leading the vessel into Oman’s waters. He said that Al Shamikh is the most modern of RNO ships.

Lt Gen Ahmed bin Harith al Nabhani, Chief of Staff of SAF, Undersecretary in UK’s Defence Ministry, civil and military officials and the British Ambassador to Oman were present at the reception.

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