There is no question what the most unusual craft is here at the NAVDEX portion of the IDEX international Defense Exposition. It’s a ship designed by the Dutch firm Damen, built in Romania, systems integration handled by France’s Thales, and fitted out and completed in the UAE by Abu Dhabi Shipbuilding.

The brand-new offshore patrol vessel Arialah, delivered Tuesday to the UAE’s Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Agency (CICPA), has an incredibly tall, knifelike prow that towers over the pier. The forward edifice is capped by a BAE Bofors 57mm gun that almost fills the deck space around it. Immediately behind is the pilot house, itself topped by a fire control director, other sensors and a tall mast, all crammed in to about the forward one-third of the 67-meter-long hull. Amidships is a Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launcher followed by a long helicopter deck flanked by two high speed interceptor craft serviced by cranes.

The high, narrow-bow, superstructure-right-forward configuration is similar to some of Damen’s “sea axe” designs for commercial ships, including oil field anchor-handling ships, standby and emergency rescue ships and large tugs, but it is unusual in naval and coast guard ships. But the CICPA agency combines military and coast guard functions to protect Abu Dhabi’s petroleum industry infrastructure “from any threats or any actions of violence,” according to the CICPA web site. […]