|This intriguing ship was originally a deepwater stern-haul fishing trawler built commercially in Spain for the state-owned Cuban fishing enterprise. At some point during the late 1990s/early 2000s it was transferred to the navy, and in 2006 or 2007 it was armed and converted into a makeshift offshore patrol vessel (OPV). |
The armament consists of two SS-N-2 “Styx” launchers taken off of a decommissioned “Osa II” class FAC(M), a 2M3 twin 25mm taken from a decommissioned torpedo boat, and what appears to be the turret of a T-54/55 tank. It is unclear how the missiles would be utilized as typically, they need to interface with a “Square Tie” radar for several seconds in directional-lock mode to obtain a firing solution. It’s possible that Rio Damuji may only carry IR-homing variant “Styx” missiles, in which case the ship would just line up and fire down the bearing of a target, hoping the missile acquires the target on it’s own.
Some sources state that there are two ships of this class now in service, however it may be that Rio Damuji simply changed pennant numbers after receiving the SS-N-2 missiles. Of the 7-trawler original order for the fishing fleet, Rio Damuji’s sister Rio Moa has been sold to a Belize fishing company and is now M/V Goldenfish I, along with Rio Hanabana which is now M/V Skyfish I.
This ship shows that the Cuban navy still has a good deal of ingenuity, however it also illustrates the pathetic nature of a fleet that once boasted ocean-going submarines and modern frigates.