The United States has transferred three Cyclone class vessels to the Egyptian Navy, which will use them to patrol its coastline.
US Naval Forces Central Command said the vessels were officially handed over during a formal ceremony in Alexandria on 21 March. “The transfer ceremony represents the culmination of weeks of preparation, training and professional exchanges between Egyptian and US Navy Sailors. The US Navy turned over former patrol coastal ships USS Hurricane (PC 3), USS Sirocco (PC 6), and USS Thunderbolt (PC 12) after sailing from Bahrain to Egypt during a month-long journey around the Arabian Peninsula, January through February.”
“The Egypt-US maritime partnership has been a fundamental pillar of our bilateral defence cooperation for decades,” said Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of NAVCENT, US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. “This transfer is yet another major milestone in our strong relationship that will enhance regional maritime security for years to come.”
During the 6 000 kilometre transit to Alexandria, US and Egyptian crewmembers worked side-by-side safely navigating the three ships on a voyage that included port visits to Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates; Duqm, Oman; Djibouti; and Berenice, Egypt.
US and Egyptian service members continued training after the ships arrived in Alexandria on 12 February. Classroom lessons included discussions on engineering, search and rescue, damage control and weapons handling.
“This transfer process was an incredible opportunity for our crews. It enabled us to strengthen our bilateral ties while enhancing our interoperability with a highly capable regional maritime partner,” said Captain Anthony Webber, commander of Task Force 55, which oversees operations for US 5th Fleet’s surface forces.
The Egyptian Navy currently commands Combined Task Force 153, one of four multinational task forces organized under US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). The task force coordinates multinational maritime security efforts in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandeb and Gulf of Aden.
Fourteen Hurricane class vessels were built in the 1990s for the US Navy for coastal patrol and in support of special operations forces. The majority were deployed to the Persian Gulf following the 2003 invasion of Iraq and remained in Bahrain to keep watch for small boat threats as they escorted oil tankers and other commercial shipping. In March 2022, Bahran received five of the vessels after they were decommissioned (the Philippines has received one).
Using four Paxman 16RP200-1-CM diesel engines producing 14 400 hp, the Hurricane class has a maximum speed of 35 knots and at a cruising speed of 12 knots, a range of 2 000 nautical miles. Each vessel is 55 metres long and displaces 330 tons (380 tons at full load). Crew is four officers and 24 enlisted personnel. Armament comprises two 25 mm Mk 38 cannons, two .12.7 mm machineguns, two 40 mm Mk 19 automatic grenade launchers, two 7.62 mm M240B machineguns, six FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles, and two MK-60 quadruple BGM-176B Griffin B missile launchers.