Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), attended the opening of the newest Egyptian Naval Force base, in the port of Gargoub, on the Mediterranean Sea, July 3. Cooper joined President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, chairman of Libya’s Presidential Council Mohamed al-Menfithe, U.S. Ambassador Jonathan R. Cohen, Egyptian defense leaders and other top naval officials from among Egypt’s maritime partner nations for the opening ceremony at the base on the country’s northwestern coast.
In the past month, U.S. and Egyptian naval vessels have conducted two passing exercises (PASSEX) in the Red Sea. The most recent took place June 29 between Egyptian Navy guided-missile frigate ENS Taba (FFG 916) and aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72). A PASSEX is an exercise in which multiple ships, operating in close vicinity, practice joint evolutions to improve crews’ knowledge, navigation, and interoperability.
“Egypt’s Navy is making strong strides at modernizing, and expanding its reach to enhance maritime security,” Cooper said. “It’s exciting to be at an event like this one, as U.S. and Egyptian naval forces are charting an even brighter course together.”
In April, Egypt became the 34th member of CMF, an enduring multinational coalition formed in 2002 and committed to upholding the rules-based international order by countering illicit non-state actors, safeguarding freedom of navigation, and promoting security, stability, and prosperity. The 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three choke points critical to the free flow of commerce.