Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has opened Egypt’s newest military base, which is the largest on the Red Sea and one of the biggest in the region.
The Berenice military base was officially opened on 15 January, with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed among attending guests. “Such achievements reflect Egypt’s vision of all-round development and enhance its role in regional stability. We wish it more progress and prosperity,” bin Zayed said.
Other high-profile guests included Saudi Deputy Minister of Defence Khalid bin Salman, Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borissov, and Armenian President Armen Sarkissian.
The base, southeast of Aswan, covers an area of 150 000 acres, with naval and air sections. The aviation section has two 3 000 metre long runways with fortified aircraft bunkers as well as a general hangar for maintenance and repair, technical area and administrative area covering around 100 buildings in total.
The naval section has a 1 000 metre long pier with 14 metre deep water, allowing large vessels such as aircraft carriers, submarines and frigates to dock.
The base has also a military hospital and training facilities as well as a desalination plant with the capacity of 3 400 cubic metres a day. A commercial port is being established alongside and this will 17 metres deep.
A civilian airport alongside the base has a 3 650 metre long runway that is 60 metres wide, an apron with capacity for eight aircraft, a 600 passenger/hour terminal and a 58 metre high control tower.
The Berenice Military Base also includes a sea water desalination plant with a capacity of 3400 cubic meters per day.
The Berenice base is the second major facility to be inaugurated by Sisi after the Mohamed Naguib based opened in July 2017. Existing facilities at the ancient Berenice port and the nearby Ras Banas air base were expanded over the course of around 18 months.
The opening of the base came as Egypt staged the Qadir 2020 exercise, one of its largest involving all branches of the military.
The Egyptian presidency said the base will help protect Egypt’s coast, economic investments and natural resources and neutralise security challenges in the Red Sea as well as ensure security of traffic through the Suez Canal.