U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) transferred three patrol craft to the Egyptian Navy, March 21, during a formal ceremony in Alexandria, Egypt. The transfer ceremony represents the culmination of weeks of preparation, training and professional exchanges between Egyptian and U.S. Navy Sailors. The U.S. 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. During the 4,000-mile transit to Alexandria, U.S. 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.
The Cyclone-class patrol ships are a class of United States Navy coastal patrol boats. Most of these ships were launched between 1992 and 1994. The primary mission of these ships is coastal patrol and interdiction surveillance, an important aspect of littoral operations outlined in the Navy’s strategy, “Forward…From the Sea.” These ships also provide full mission support for U.S. Navy SEALs and other special operations forces. As of 2015, ten of the U.S. Navy’s 13 Cyclone-class patrol ships were deployed to Naval Support Activity Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, to deal with a potential conflict with Iran. The remaining three ships of the class are slated to be transferred to Naval Station Mayport in Florida to primarily perform drug interdiction duties with U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (USNAVSO).
“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 Capt. Anthony Webber, commander of Task Force 55, which oversees operations for U.S. 5th Fleet’s surface forces.
“The Egypt-U.S. maritime partnership has been a fundamental pillar of our bilateral defense cooperation for decades,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of NAVCENT, U.S. 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.”
U.S. and Egyptian service members continued training after the ships arrived in Alexandria, Feb. 12. Classroom lessons included discussions on engineering, search and rescue, damage control and weapons handling. The Egyptian Navy currently commands Combined Task Force 153, one of four multinational task forces organized under U.S.-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). The task force coordinates multinational maritime security efforts in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandeb and Gulf of Aden. NAVCENT and CMF are headquartered in Manama, Bahrain. They include maritime forces operating in the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal and Bab al-Mandeb.