2023 Top Best Naval Forces In Africa

Top 10 Navy In Africa 2023

The purpose of the navy, like the air force and army, is to defend and protect the territorial seas of any
sovereign state against potential attacks or foreign invasion. The naval troops are typically entrusted
with investigating and fending off the impending danger at the first sign of potential harm to a
country’s territorial security.

Despite being the first line of defense against immediate danger, the Navy is typically not given
substantial consideration in the majority of African nations.

As a result of the deteriorating economic circumstances in several African nations, like Libya and
Somalia, maritime prowesses have been gradually diminished over time. Other nations, like Ethiopia,
have completely lost their coastal capabilities as a result of the loss of their coastline. Ethiopia is, however, currently planning to revive its marine force organization.

We used the Canadian Navy’s ranking system, which was created as a standard for all naval forces worldwide, to try to rank this list of the best navies in Africa.

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It is not surprising that these large, African nations have the strongest and most powerful navies in
Africa, considering their militarily advanced naval forces. They are also regarded as having the greatest influence when it comes to making important decisions that affect the continent.

Millions of dollars are committed to these nations’ defense budgets as they strengthen their fleet,
particularly when an armory upgrade is required. According to an analysis by Leadmark Strategy, the following factors determine how powerful a nation’s fleet is:

Rank 1: Major Global Force Projection Navy (Complete)

This fleet is equipped to perform all the military functions of naval forces on a worldwide scale. It is fully
equipped with amphibious and carrier capabilities, nuclear attack submarines, ballistic missile submarines, and sea command forces; and it has enough of each to carry out major operations on its own. The US Navy is a perfect illustration of this kind of navy.

Rank 2: Major Global Force Projection Navy (Partial)

These are naval forces that have the majority, if not all, of a fully functional global navy’s force
projection abilities, but only have sufficient proportions to conduct one significant outside-the-area
the operation, such as France and Britain.

Rank 3: Medium Global Force Projection Navy

These are naval forces that, while they might not be filled to capacity, have a reliable and satisfactory
capacity in most areas and routinely show a willingness to use such areas outside of their home
coastlines in collaboration with other Force Projection Navies. Examples include Canada, Australia, and
the Netherlands.

Rank 4: Medium Regional Force Projection Navy

These fleets are capable of projecting naval force into the nearby maritime basin. Although they might
be able to use their powers in other regions, for whatever reason, they don’t frequently do so.

Rank 5: Adjacent Force Projection Navies

These are naval forces that can demonstrate their naval capabilities somewhat offshore but are unable
to conduct complex naval operations across vast oceanic distances.

Rank 6: Offshore Territorial Defence Navies

This category of navies is able to conduct high levels of defensive and constabulary missions up to 200
miles from their coastlines thanks to the sustainability provided by frigates or big corvette naval ships
and/or a good submarine force.

Rank 7: Inshore Territorial Defence Navies

These forces can engage in coastal battle rather than only carry out constabulary operations because
their primary focus is on inshore territorial defense. This suggests a force made up of fast-attack ships
equipped with missiles, close-range aviation, and a small number of submarines.

Rank 8: Constabulary Navies

These are sizable fleets that are only meant to serve as a policing force, not engage in combat.

Rank 9: Token Navies

These are navies with only rudimentary capabilities, which frequently amount to little more than a
nominal organizational structure and a couple of small coastal vessels. These nations, which are among
the weakest and smallest in the world, are only capable of performing the barest of constabulary duties.

Given that the main duty of the navy is to maintain peace and stability in any nation’s riverine region
and seaports, you might be able to guess the category that powerful nations like Nigeria, Libya, Egypt,
and South Africa will fall under using the given ranking method.

Which countries in Africa are therefore homes to the best navies continent?

We conducted our research and identified the top ten African nations with the most formidable naval

1. The Egyptian Navy

The naval division of the Egyptian Armed Forces is referred to as the Egyptian Navy or Egyptian Naval
Force. It is the largest naval in the Middle East and Africa with about 20,000 active personnel and
roughly 16,000 reserve personnel and also the 11th largest (by the number of naval ships) in the world.
It was established around 1800.

Its naval fleet includes submarines of the type 033 Romeo class, type 209/1400 Mod class, and mistral-
class amphibious assault vessels, among other powerful military hardware. As a result, the Egyptian navy
is among the best-equipped in Africa.

Its control headquarters is based in Alexandria. Its uniform is made up of blue, red, white, and black
among some other hues. Egyptian naval forces have fought in numerous wars over the years, including the Battle of the Delta against the Sea Peoples and the First and Second Egyptian-Ottoman Wars in 1831 and 1839, respectively.

The Soviet Union assisted Egypt in developing the majority of its modern navy throughout the 1960s. In
In the 1980s, the navy received vessels from China as well as other Western powers. In 1989, there were 18,000 servicemen of the Egyptian Navy and 2,000 members of the Coast Guard.

In 1990, the US donated ships to the navy. About 30 boats, including survey ships, mine hunters, and
aluminum and steel patrol boats, have been constructed by the US shipbuilder Swiftships for the
Egyptian Navy.

The surface fleet of the navy is presently being modernized. As part of a broader agreement (including
24 Rafales and procurement of missiles) totaling €5.2 billion, the Egyptian Navy acquired one FREMM
multipurpose frigate from the French shipbuilder DCNS on February 16, 2015, to join operations prior to
the inauguration of the New Suez Canal. Additionally, Egypt and DCNS have agreed to a €1 billion deal
for the purchase of 4 Gowind 2,500 ton corvettes, with an offer for two extra.

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Beginning in 2016, when the initial shipment of four German-built Type 209 submarines for €920 million
begins to arrive, the fleet of aging submarines will be replaced.

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Egypt is also the owner and operator of 4 Type 209 German submarines as well as 4 ex-Chinese Romeo-
class submarines that have been modernized with Western periscopes, passive sonars, trailing GPS, a
a fire control system, and the capacity to shoot US-made harpoon missiles.

A second contract for six 28-meter Coastal Patrol Craft material manufacturing kits, Zodiac RIBS, and
military hardware was given to Swiftships in April 2022 as part of a US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) transaction with Egypt. The 900 nautical mile range of a Swiftships’ 28-meter boat can be increased by
refueling while afloat.

2. The Algerian Navy

The Algerian military’s naval wing is known as the Algerian Naval Force (ANF). The main duty odd the
Algerian naval force is to monitor and protect Algeria’s maritime borders from any external military
intrusion. It conducts its operations from a number of bases scattered along the nation’s nearly 1,440
km (890 mi) coastline. Additional responsibilities include those related to maritime safety and coast
guard operations, in addition to deployment of marine force (fusiliers marins).

The Algerian Navy, which is the oldest in Africa and has been ranked as the continent’s second-most
formidable navy was established in 1516. Its headquarters is based in Lamiraute. With roughly 17,000
active navy personnel, it also ranks among the largest navies in terms of size. So far as the Western Mediterranean is concerned, the Algerian military is indeed a very significant player.

Its arsenal boasts 80 naval vessels, 30 helicopters, and several boats for rapid military response and
patrol. An accurate number of active vessels is hard to obtain because the Algerian military has always
maintained a thick shroud of secrecy around its structure and equipment. The information provided by
open sources about various features of Algerian weaponry is known to differ greatly.

Nevertheless, the Naval force is being modernized with certain technological advancements: the current
units are being upgraded, as the submarine force is being bolstered by the addition of 2 new Kilo class
submarines (last generation).


3. South African Navy

The South African Navy underwent modernization in 1962. Its headquarters is at Saldanha Bay in Simons
Town, Durban.It has approximately 7,700 active members and 1,000 reserve members. The color of its uniform is green and white. The strong officers of the South African Navy have fought in a number of naval warfare, particularly against sea pirate strikes.

The South African Navy is currently one of the most equipped naval forces on the African continent,
boasting approximately 7,000 members, including a marine force, to operate a combined force of
modern warships, patrol craft, submarines, and auxiliary vessels.

The first naval organization to emerge was the South African Division of the British Royal Naval
Volunteer Reserve in 1913, which later transformed into a largely autonomous naval service for the
Union of South Africa in 1922. The South African Division originally had deep political and historical ties
to the Uk.

South African naval forces have historically taken part in the South African Border War, the First and
Second World Wars, and other battles. The South African Navy was closely allied with NATO and other Western powers against the Soviet Bloc during the apartheid post-war years.

Since the South African Navy only has four main surface warships, 3 formerly decommissioned Warrior-
class attack craft (SAS Isaac Dyobha, SAS Galeshewe, and SAS Makhanda) were revamped and
redesignated as offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) between 2012 and 2014.

This was done to increase asset effectiveness in more regular coastal patrol operations and reduce the strain on sophisticated but unsuited warships. Since then, SAS Galeshewe has been formally placed in reserve.

In addition, 3 German-built Type 209/1400 submarines were received as a resembling replacement for
the outdated Daphné-class submarines between 2004 and 2008.

As of 2020, South Africa was the only country in the sub-Saharan region and one of just three countries
on the African continent (the other two being Egypt and Algeria) that presently command submarine
assets. With nearly complete underwater dominance, the SA Navy maintains a powerful standard
subsurface naval deterrence against any potential continental hostile state.

4. Nigerian Navy

The Nigerian navy, which is currently regarded as the fourth-strongest in Africa, was established in 1958
and has since fought in numerous wars, including the civil war, the Boko Haram insurgency, and conflicts
with militants in the Niger Delta, among others.

Nigeria ranks among the most powerful nations in Africa, and it has a large military budget. There are
over 16,000 active officers and about 2000 reserve personnel.

It frequently receives support from the federal government in the form of high-tech weapons and
ammunition, such as three amphibious tanks, two offshore patrol vessels, three frigates, and four patrol
cutters, among other forms of empowerment. 6 new Ocea speed patrol boats and 10 new small boats
were commissioned by the Nigerian Navy on September 3, 2018, during an official ceremony at the
Naval Dockard in Lagos.

The patrol boats are comprised of four smaller FPB 72 MKII hulls: Shiroro (P
185), Ose (P 186), Gongola (P 189), and Calabar (P 190) and two FPB 110 MKII hulls — Nguru (P 187) and
Ekulu (P 188) — which was supplied earlier this year by France’s Ocea Shipbuilding company.

Delivery of all vessels took place between the end of 2017 and April 2018.

The Nigerian Navy had received 2 new Ocea FPB 110 MK II Fast Patrol Boats before the six new Ocea
swift patrol boats arrived. Seven FPB 72 MK II boats from Ocea had already been delivered, in three
batches: 3 in 2012, 1 FPB 98 in 2013, 2 in 2017, and 2 in January 2018. The Nigerian Port Authority
ordered the FPB 72 and FPB 98, which were afterward given to the Nigerian Navy.

The Nigerian Navy made an order for fifteen brand-new Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB) in 2018,
according to Paramount Maritime Holding, a South African defense company. The procurement, which includes, among other things, 8.5 and 9.5 meters Guardian quick patrol boats, will also feature training
for the Nigerian Navy and marine employees.

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Due to its reputation and structure, the Nigerian navy remains one of the most recognized navies in the

5. Moroccan Navy

The Royal Moroccan Navy of the Moroccan Armed Forces is in charge of carrying out the country’s naval
missions. Its duties include overseeing Morocco’s 81,000 square nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone
and defending Moroccan sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Due to Morocco’s coastline stretch of 2,952 km and a key position near the Strait of Gibraltar, Morocco, together with Spain and the United Kingdom is heavily involved in the safeguarding of this crucial international waterway. Although the Moroccan Navy has existed since the eleventh century, modernization began on October 1st, 1960.

The Moroccan Navy may not have as many personnel as others, but it sure has a wealth of military
expertise. According to research, they have over 89 naval ships, including 17 boats, making them one of
the best-equipped naval forces in Africa.

The fourth-placed Moroccan navy has 8,000 active personnel and 500 reserve personnel. It makes sure that the country’s international waterway is fully protected and secured.

6. Somalian Navy

The Somali Navy is a division of the Somali Armed Forces that specializes in naval operations. The Somali
naval force mostly conducted maritime patrols during the post-independence period to stop vessels
from trespassing the country’s maritime borders.

This military arm was founded in 1964 and is currently classified as Africa’s sixth-strongest naval force.
In relation to the number of active personnel, the Somalian navy ranks among the largest on the
continent. The color of its uniform is a blue-gold color.

It boasts two missile boats in addition to numerous excellent vessels. The SA navy inventory in 1990
featured two Soviet Osa-II missile-armed swift attack craft, 4 Soviet Mol PFT torpedo-armed swift attack
craft, and numerous patrol craft.

The navy also owned 4 smaller landing craft as well as a Soviet
Polnocny-class landing ship that could transport 120 men and 5 tanks.

7. Tanzanian Navy

The naval military division of the Tanzania People’s Defence Force is known as the Tanzania Naval
Command (TPDF). It was founded in 1971 with support from China.

The Tanzanian navy, like the others on this list, is a formidable navy that was included in this ranking not
merely due to its size but rather owing to the amount of high-tech ammunition and weaponry it holds
and/or acquires.
The Tanzania Naval Command’s arsenal, as of 2016, consisted of the following assets:

  • 4 Huchuan class torpedo boats
  • 2 27-foot Defender-type patrol boats
  • 2 Ngunguri class vessels
  • 2 Shanghai II class patrol craft
  • 2 Yuch’in class landing craft.

The headquarters of the country’s navy is at Kigamboni, Dar es Salaam. The navy also took part in
operation Democracy War.

8. Libyan Navy

The Libyan navy was established in 1962, and its headquarters was in Tripoli. In light of the crisis that has
engulfed the nation over the years, the Libyan Navy, which would perhaps have been the greatest navy
in Africa in terms of weaponry, is now ranked eighth.

With a handful of missile frigates, corvettes, and patrol boats to protect the coastline but very little in
terms of self-defense equipment, the Libyan Fleet is a pretty typical modest navy.

Having always been the smallest of Libya’s military, the Navy has historically relied on foreign suppliers for supplies, replacement parts, and training.

When the Libyan Navy engaged the US Sixth Fleet in combat in the Gulf of Sidra in October 1986, one
missile boat, a corvette, and several ships were all destroyed by A-6s, and this was the first time they
had experienced military action. Oddly, some of these offensives were carried out with success using CBUs such as the Mk.20 Rockeye, an anti-tank armament.

The Libyan Navy currently has about 3000 active physically fit personnel and 500 reserve personnel. The
The Navy has stations in Tripoli with international engineers for repairing ships with up to 6,000 tonnes of dead weight (DWT); a floating dock with a 3,200-ton lift; and floating docks in Tobruk and Benghazi.

9. Kenya Navy

The 9th Best African navy is the Kenyan Navy. Founded in 1964 and with its headquarters in Nairobi, the
Kenyan Navy notably took part in the Operation Linda Nchi War in Somalia, which began on October 16,
2011, and ended on May 13, 2012.

The Kenya Navy fleet is divided into two combat squadrons and a logistical support squadron, namely
the original 66 Squadron, the 76 Squadron, and the 86 Squadron, all of which are reinforced by the Fleet Maintenance Unit, a Special Operations Squadron, and a recently created elite Marine Ranger Regiment.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Kenya Navy showed a significant interest in forming
specialized groups within its forces to deal with new challenges like terrorism, drug trafficking, and piracy.

As a result, a Special Operations Squadron (SOS) was created to serve as a unit akin to the
Special Operations Regiment of the Kenyan Army, and offers a cohesive command structure for its
multiple special units.

The Special Boat Unit (SBU) has benefited from collaborative training workshops with the U.S. military
since it was established in 2010 with help from the U.S. Navy’s Special Warfare Combatant-craft
Crewmen (SWCC) personnel. It is stationed at the renovated Manda Naval Base close to Lamu and is
charged with mostly monitoring the northern coastline close to the Somali border at Kiunga.

They are reputed to have Defender-Class response boats for swift high-seas patrols and interdictions.
Many of the older ships from the early years of the Kenyan navy have been replaced; most of them were
transfers from the Royal East African Navy through the Royal Navy.

The Kenyan navy’s ranks are different from traditional naval ranks because they more closely resemble
ranks used in ground forces.
Its officer ranks consist of:

  • Second Lieutenant (Midshipman)
  • Lieutenant (Sub-Lieutenant)
  • Captain (First Lieutenant)
  • Major (Lieutenant Commander)
  • Lieutenant Colonel (Commander)
  • Colonel (Captain)
  • Brigadier (Commodore)
  • Major General (Rear-Admiral)
  • Lieutenant-General (Vice Admiral)
  • General (Admiral)

Its arsenal consists of weaponry like P3134KNS Harambee II missile boats, modern ships, different fleets
and survey vessels.

10. Ghanaian Navy

The Ghanaian Navy was established on October 29, 1959. They have the tenth-best navy in the entire
the continent of Africa.

The Ghana Navy (GN) is the maritime warfare operational military arm of the Ghanaian Armed
(GAF), which is under the administration of the Ministry of Defense (MoD).

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Its weaponry consists of a German-built FPB 57 class patrol ship, a Chamsur class patrol boat, a Snake
class patrol vessel, a Balsam class patrol ship, and six new speedboats from the Ghana Red Cross that
come with all the necessary accessories to help with rescue operations in the nation.

Its 46.8 million patrol ships, which were procured from China’s Poly Technologies subsidiary of China
Poly Group Corporation in 2011 and supplied to the GN (Ghana Navy) in October 2011, make up its
present fleet of operational naval vessels. The boats were put into service on February 21, 2012.

In 2005, it also paid $35 million for two ships of the German navy’s Albatros-class rapid assault craft. To
help with its rescue mission throughout the nation, Ghana Red Cross donated six new speedboats to the
Ghana Navy on December 10, 2010, together with all of their necessary accessories.

Ranking the Best Navies in Africa According to Standard Naval

African Military Blog devised a ranking system based on “roles” and “capabilities,” as well as taking
operational experience and weaponry type into account. In the ranking of the Top 10 best Navy in
Africa, each player is allocated to a specific category. vis:

  • Blue Water Navy (BWN)
  • Green Water Navy (GWN)
  • Brown Water Navy (BWN)
  • Constabulary Corp (CC)
  • African countries with no Navy

Blue Water Navy (BWN)

A navy that is capable of conducting all forms of naval operations is known as a “blue water navy.” They
are capable of traveling, navigating, and assisting naval operations far out at sea. A navy possessing blue
water prowesses has the infrastructure and support system to navigate any body of water without

For instance, the Fleet Replenishing Ship (AOR) SAS Drakensberg of the South African Navy allows it to
travel and reinforce its spying frigates anywhere on Earth.

The South African Navy, in an effort to demonstrate its Blue Water Capabilities, sent the Drakensberg to
support two of its missile boats (the Hendrik Mentz and SAS Jan Smut) on a peacekeeping mission to Taiwan in May 1990 for bilateral operations and training exercises with NO port stops.

This confirms how the SAN is one of the best navies in Africa today.
Africa’s blue water navies include:

  • Egyptian Navy
  • Algerian National Navy
  • South African Navy

Green Water Navy (GWN)

A navy may be referred to as a “green water navy” if it can deploy its naval forces far from its coastlines
but is nonetheless constrained in its capability to conduct deepwater operations.

A Green Water Navy can sail and traverse over vast distances, it is only able to do so within a limited amount of time because it lacks the necessary platforms and infrastructure for deep water activities.

The Nigerian Navy, for instance, is capable of sending one or two of its “Long range” Hamilton-class ships on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to Canada, but it is unable to sustain a fighting or training activity on the same route because it lacks Fleet Replenishing Ships (AOR), like oilers, food resupply vessels, etc.

The majority of Green Water Navies suffer from a dearth of supply chains and air protection, which
restricts their ability to project naval force beyond a few kilometers of their respective coasts.

Africa’s green water navies include:

  • Nigerian Navy
  • Moroccan Navy
  • Tunisian Navy
  • Equatorial Guinea Navy

Brown Water Navy (BWN)

These navies are mostly concerned with littoral fighting. They typically specialize in “Swarm attacks,”
which involves overwhelming an adversary with multiple small boats. Patrol ships and small gunboats
make up the bulk of Brown Water Navies’ fleets. Their main responsibilities are;

  • Coastal patrol
  • Fighting sea bandits
  • Coast guard obligations
    Scaring the opponent
  • Mine clearing and sweeping

Africa’s brown water navies include:

  • Angolan Navy
  • Tanzania Navy
  • Sudanese Navy
  • Ghanaian Navy
  • Kenyan Navy
  • Namibia Navy
  • Cameroonian Navy
  • Ghana Navy

Constabulary Corp (CC)

This merely serves as a marine law enforcement agency. A Constabulary Corp has no effective means of
deterrence and neither the capabilities nor the technical expertise to wage war. Its primary responsibility is to protect the harbors and seaports from vices and criminal activity.

African countries with constabulary corp include:

  • Libyan Navy
  • Togolese Navy
  • Senegalese Navy
  • Mauritius Navy
  • Eritrea Navy
  • Gabon Navy

Nations in Africa without a Navy

There are numerous landlocked African nations without a fleet of their own. Even though they are few
in number, they do exist. Ethiopia is an exception, which maintained a navy for a while despite losing all
of its coastlines to Eritrea as a result of that country’s War of Independence.

African countries with no naval force include:
 Burkina Faso
 Liberia
 Niger
 Botswana
 Lesotho
 Zambia
 Zimbabwe
 Central African Republic
 Ethiopia
 Mali
 Chad

The Obstacles Facing African Navies

Due to a number of factors, including political unrest, economic hardship, and a lack of technical
expertise, running a fully functional all-encompassing navy in Africa is expensive. Additionally, the tasks
and missions assigned to naval warships are not always well-defined.

For instance, a frigate—which can be armed like an OPV—is the common name for an offshore patrol vessel (OPV). Corvettes, which are designed to screen bigger, more powerful naval vessels, are typically deployed to pursue sea robbers and other criminals.

Other difficulties include erratic ship purchases, scant or no government assistance, and ongoing budget

Even more worrisome is the lack of a maintenance-oriented culture, poor training, and limited
operational and combat experience in several African naval services.

However, the majority of prominent African countries continue to rank in the top 10 best navies in Africa for 2022.

Last but not least, the Army and Air Force are typically called upon to bring order since the majority of
conflicts are often internal in origin or at worst border dispute related, bringing into doubt the necessity
of a navy. In summary, the navy’s relevance isn’t given as much attention.

This pattern has caused African fleets lag behind those of the West, Asia, and the Middle East.

NOTE: This ranking of the top navies in Africa was based on each nation’s past and present achievements, the caliber of their arsenal, the number of personnel who are actively serving, and lastly, how well-respected and coordinated they are.

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