The first of four fast missile craft (FMC) for the Egyptian Navy has been launched by VT Halter Marine, marking a key milestone in the ship’s construction process.
The vessel was launched from the shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on Thursday. The first of four FMCs are scheduled to join the Egyptian fleet in 2012.
The four vessels are being built under a foreign military sales contract awarded by the United States Navy. In April last year it was announced that VT Halter Marine had been awarded a contract to build a fourth FMC, taking the value of the four 600-ton craft to US$807 million. VT Halter Marine received the initial design contract in 2005.
The primary mission of the FMC is to conduct independent and joint operations, primarily against armed surface adversaries. The Egyptian Navy has a requirement for a vessel with the capabilities of an FMC to combat these threats and to patrol and defend its coastal waterways of the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and in particular, the Suez Canal.
“The launch of the FMC is the culmination of nearly two years of production rigor and dedication from all parties,” said Frank McCarthey, the Auxiliary Ships, Boats, and Craft program manager. “The FMC program will continue to benefit from the high degree of design and planning maturity that has already been accomplished by the Navy/VT Halter team.”
Each of the 63 meter craft carry a 76mm Super Rapid Gun, Harpoon Block II missiles, MK49 Rolling Airframe Missiles, and the Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) Block 1B. These high-speed, agile craft can reach speeds of greater than 34 knots provide berthing for a crew of up to 40 sailors and operate up to eight days independently at sea.
In February in was announced that an Egyptian shipyard is to assemble two 28-metre Swiftships patrol craft and co-produce two more under a US$20 million contract modification to a Foreign Military Sales Programme purchase. The Egyptian Coast Guard, part of the Egyptian Navy, already operates nine Swiftships.