Leadership: Saudi Arabian Naval Reform


December 14, 2005: Urged on by a more aggressive Inspector General (IG), the Royal Saudi Navy has quietly initiated major reforms. This is largely the result of the embarrassing grounding of the new frigate Makkah about a year ago. At the time, the ship's captain, a member of the royal family, was promoted instead of being punished, and given a desk job. But the navy's IG, another member of the royal family, working behind the scenes, managed to get permission to undertake a proper investigation of the incident. As a result of the inquiry, the responsible officer has just been retired, rather quietly. In addition, the IG has issued a report that is critical of the training Saudi naval personnel received from the French Navy (Makkah and her two sisters were built in France) and of the quality of both French and British built vessels, urging that in the future the navy rely exclusively on US built ships for its needs, a step that appears to have already been taken with the announcement that the service is looking at the LCS for its future needs. Meanwhile, Makkah remains under repair, and rumor has it that the ship may never be fully operational.


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