* Country's navy destroyed during political turmoil, civil
* Now facing growing West African piracy threat
* New vessels include 33-metre patrol boats
ABIDJAN, Jan 28 Ivory Coast is adding around 40
new vessels to its depleted navy as it confronts a growing
threat from pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, the country's defence
minister said on Tuesday.
Attacks on commercial vessels off the coast of oil-rich West
Africa jumped by a third last year. The first known hijacking of
a vessel in Ivory Coast territorial waters occurred late in
2012. Similar attacks followed.
"These vessels will provide security on our rivers, the
lagoon and at sea," Defence Minister Paul Koffi Koffi said.
"They will fight piracy, infiltration and illicit trafficking
and will be managed by the navy."
Ivory Coast's navy was seriously damaged by 10 years of
political upheaval that culminated in a brief civil war in 2011.
Efforts to rebuild it have been hampered by a United
Nations-imposed embargo on weapons imports.
However, the UN has approved the purchase of the new
vessels, Koffi Koffi told Reuters, and some of them have already
arrived. The order was placed with France's Raidco Marine and
includes around 30 inflatable speed launches. The rest are 9- to
12-metre craft and 33-metre patrol boats.
The minister declined to say how much Ivory Coast was paying
for the vessels. Lorient-based Raidco Marine did not immediately
respond to requests for comment.
"I can tell you that right now we have practically nothing,"
Koffi Koffi said.
The new vessels are due to be managed by the navy but will
also be used by the police and gendarmerie.
(Reporting by Joe Bavier; Editing by Larry King)