Africa Defense Forum
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Egyptian Navy Receives 3 Coastal Patrol Boats


The Egyptian Navy in late March received three Cyclone-class patrol boats from the United States government.

The vessels previously named the USS Hurricane, USS Sirocco and USS Thunderbolt were delivered to Alexandria, a port city in northern Egypt. The monthlong, 6,400-kilometer journey to Alexandria included port visits to Duqm, Oman;, Djibouti; Berenice, Egypt; and Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates.

As the boats arrived in Alexandria, Egyptian and U.S. navies continued joint training in search and rescue, damage control, engineering and weapons handling.

“The Egyptian naval forces have recently witnessed a huge technological leap in armament systems and combat efficiency in accordance with the latest international systems,” Egyptian Armed Forces spokesperson Col. Gharib Abdel-Hafez said at a transfer ceremony. “The Cyclone-class patrol boats are among the most advanced units in the U.S. Navy and represent a new addition to Egypt’s naval forces.”

Admiral Ashraf Atwa, commander of the Egyptian Naval Force, said the delivery confirmed the strategic cooperation and partnership between Egypt and the U.S. Atwa also stressed the importance of enhancing the capabilities of the Egyptian naval fleet to maintain security and stability in its areas of operation.

The countries have a long history of naval cooperation.

In August 2022, for example, Egypt joined the Spanish and U.S. navies for a joint maritime exercise in the Mediterranean Sea. The navies trained in naval combat techniques and information sharing to locate air and sea targets. They also drilled to address threats to navigation and the flow of international trade.

“These exercises come from within the framework supporting the joint cooperation between the Egyptian Armed Force and its counterparts from friendly countries that have great experience in these fields, which contributes to supporting maritime security and stability,” Abdel-Hafez said in a report by Saudi Arabian newspaper Arab News.

The Egyptian Navy is the largest navy in the Middle East and Africa. It is responsible for securing more than 2,000 kilometers of coastline along the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, as well as defending approaches to the Suez Canal.

The Egyptian Navy also commands Combined Task Force 153, one of four multinational maritime security groups led by the Combined Maritime Forces, a 34-nation naval partnership. The task force aims to maintain regional security in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab al-Mandeb.

Task Force 153 was established by the U.S. military in April 2022 to combat smuggling and other illicit activities. The Gulf of Aden is a key transit route for unmarked boats smuggling Iranian missiles and small arms to Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

For years, Iranian weapons smuggled through the Gulf of Aden have wound up in Somalia, where they are sold to violent extremist groups such as al-Shabaab and the Islamic State group. Iran established a proxy network in Somalia and has used the country to funnel weapons to the Houthi militia in Yemen since about 2016.

The weapons smuggling network also likely extends to groups linked to al-Shabaab in Ethiopia, Kenya and Mozambique, fueling insecurity around the Horn of Africa, according to a report by the Institute for Security Studies.

Iranian weapons also are commonly transported to the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Tanzania, Foreign Policy magazine reported.

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