THE Moroccan Navy has signed a contract with a large Spanish shipbuilder to supply a brand new patrol vessel for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Morocco’s Ministry of Defense signed the deal with Madrid based ship builder Navantia on Friday as announced by Spain’s minister of Finance Maria Jesus Montero.

The new boat will be constructed at the San Fernando shipyards in Cadiz and the deal is supposedly worth a total of €150 million.

In a statement released by the Ministry of Finance, the vessel will be an Avante Class, 80 metre long patrol boat that will be primarily used in the surveillance and rescue of illegal migrants heading to Spain.

The agreement marks the first time in nearly four decades that Morocco has used a Spanish company to supply military equipment after years of outsourcing to France and Holland.

The last warship purchased by Morocco from Spain was in 1982 from Navantia, or Empresa Nacional Bazan as it was known then.

The ship, a Corvette style boat named Lieutenant Colonel Errahmani was the flagship of the Moroccan Navy for many years before being decommissioned.

Morocco has been strengthening its military presence over the past few years after an increased spending budget and freshly renewed contracts with US military arms suppliers.

In 2020, Morocco’s budget increased 157% and included the purchase of 12 anti-ship missiles and 25 new F-16 fighter jets.

The new contract also comes after what has been one of Spain’s worst years for Moroccan and African migrants landing on its territory.

The Canary islands alone have been drastically hit, with over 16,000 migrants hitting its shores last year prompting government intervention and an increase in holding facilities on the islands.

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