As the International Defence Exhibition, IDEX, draws to a close, a new book on the early history of the UAE Navy has been released.
‘The Naval Force of Abu Dhabi, 1967-1976’ written by Dr. Athol Yates and Cliff Lord, traces the development of the force from its foundation by the late Sheikh Zayed, in 1967, to the unification of the UAE Armed Forces in 1976.
It began as the Sea Wing of the Abu Dhabi Defence Force, being renamed the Abu Dhabi Navy in 1971. On unification of the armed forces, it then became the UAE Navy in 1976.
The book, published by Australian firm Collaborative Publications, traces the early recruitment of personnel, including seconded officers from Britain and Pakistan and identifies the first Emirati to be commissioned as a naval officer, Lieutenant Mohammed Kharam, who gained his commission in 1970.
It also records the selection and purchase of ships from overseas as well as the construction of the Sea Wing’s first base, in the Al Zahiya (‘Tourist Club’) area of Abu Dhabi island.
It is lavishly illustrated with old photographs of the navy’s ships, such as the early patrol boats of the Dhafeer class, of its land-based facilities and of some of its early officers.
In a Foreword, Major General Sheikh Saeed bin Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, current Commander of the UAE Naval Forces, notes that, in 1967, Sheikh Zayed had "emphasised the need for this force to acquire modern technology, build the human capabilities of its members, and reach a high level of efficiency, readiness and preparedness."
By 1976, Sheikh Saeed said, "the Navy could continuously patrol UAE waters as well as provide a credible deterrence. The Navy also assisted in law enforcement by intercepting boats carrying illicit goods, and helped nation-building through linking the UAE mainland to its islands."
Thanking the late Sheikh Zayed, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, "for their leadership in building the Navy," Sheikh Saeed went on "to express my sincere pride and appreciation for the efforts and sacrifices made by past and current naval personnel in realising their vision."
"Our Armed Forces have made the UAE today an oasis of security and stability and a model of development and prosperity for the region," he added.
Dr. Yates, an Associate Professor at Khalifa University’s Institute for International Studies and Civil Security, is also the author of ‘Catastrophes, crashes and crimes in the UAE: Newspaper articles from the 1970s’, published by Medina Publications.