Country Listing

Angola Table of Contents



The People's Navy of Angola (Marinha de Guerra Popular de Angola -- MGPA) remained a relatively unimportant branch of the armed forces because of the exigencies of the ground and air wars in the interior. The navy's fortified headquarters and home port, as well as major ship repair facilities, were at Luanda. Although there were several good harbors along Angola's coastline, the only other ports used regularly were Lobito and Namibe, and these were used only to support temporary southern deployments. The latter two ports were located near railheads and airfields. Lobito had minor repair facilities as well.

The navy's mission was to defend the 1,600-kilometer coastline and territorial waters against South African sabotage, attacks, and resupply operations to UNITA; to protect against unlicensed fishing in Angolan waters; and to interdict smugglers. In early 1985, President dos Santos transferred responsibility for protecting the rich offshore fisheries from the coast guard to the MGPA to provide more effective enforcement of fishing regulations. After Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Augusto Alfredo, vice minister of defense and MGPA commander, was killed in a road accident in June 1985, he was succeeded by Rear Admiral António José Condessa de Carvalho (nom de guerre Toka), who had spent the previous four years in the Soviet Union studying military science.

The MGPA officially dates from July 10, 1976, when latePresident Agostinho Neto visited the naval facilities at Luanda. Its senior officers had actually begun training in 1970, during the war of liberation, when the MPLA sent the first cadre of twentyfour naval trainees abroad for a three-year training program. However, there was no navy awaiting their return. The MPLA inherited a small number of Portuguese ships at independence, which were subsequently augmented by various Soviet warships and support craft. In 1988 the MGPA was reported to have 1,500 personnel (thought to be volunteers) and a fleet of about fifty vessels that included guided-missile fast patrol boats, torpedo boats, inlandwater and coastal patrol vessels, mine warfare craft, and amphibious landing craft. The independent merchant marine fleet had about 100 vessels that could be impressed into service (see table 14, Appendix A).

Most of the navy's maintenance, repair, and training were provided by Soviet and Cuban technicians and advisers; Portugal and Nigeria also provided training assistance. Despite extensive foreign support, in late 1988 the serviceability of many of the vessels and equipment was in question. Moreover, naval recruitment and the proficiency of MGPA personnel remained problematic; indeed, the MPLA and Ministry of Defense leadership repeatedly appealed to youth (the JMPLA in particular) to join the navy.

Data as of February 1989