The Navy celebrated its 36th anniversary this week with its biggest ever exercise. Amira Ibrahim reports
Four months after the 1967 defeat, two Egyptian missile boats sank the Israeli destroyer Eilat in the Mediterranean Sea. Described by strategists as a radical turning point in the balance of naval power, the event was marked at this year's Navy Day on Tuesday.
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The naval exercise included dropping frogmen via parachutes from C-130 aircraft to raid enemy targets and destroy them, while mine sweepers roamed the waters to secure passage for warships, and naval units also conducted two fuel supply operations to a ship and a helicopter
The celebrations were notably different from past years, with an intricate naval show attended by President Hosni Mubarak taking place in the waters off of Alexandria's Mediterranean coast.
The event began with a ceremony at Ras Al- Tin Naval Base announcing the commissioning of 11 new warships, including two Perry class guided missile destroyers, named Sharm El- Sheikh and Toshka. The multi-mission ships are equipped with Aegis combat systems, which combine space-age communication, radar and weapons technologies in a single platform for unlimited flexibility while operating from the sea.
Five German missile boats, an administrational support and transportation ship, a fuel supply ship and two rescue operation ships also joined the navy's fleet.
Accompanied by Defence Minister Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Air Force Commander Lt Gen Magdi Sha'rawi, and Air Defence Commander Lt Gen Sami 'Anan, President Mubarak watched Victory 36, the code name for the naval exercises performed by 35 units over two hours.
Sixteen warplanes simulated operations like the securing of a naval base against a possible submarine attack and the planting of high destruction mines. SH-2G helicopters searched for submarines in the water. A number of missile boats then launched a counter attack on surface units, intercepting a passing ship with the help of other warships and planes. F-16s used surface to air missiles to hit enemy targets while three missile boats destroyed the rest of the enemy units.
In another part of the exercise, Buffalo and Mi-17 aircraft conducted a rescue operation involving dropping rubber boats in the water. Meanwhile, four boats intercepted a suspect ship while commando and frogmen units were dropped from helicopters to take control of the ship.
The exercise also included dropping frogmen via parachutes from C-130 aircraft to raid enemy targets and destroy them. Mine sweepers roamed the waters to secure passage for warships, and naval units also conducted two fuel supply operations to a ship and a helicopter.
"The Egyptian navy is one of the strongest in the region," Navy Commander in Chief Rear Admiral Tamer Abdel-'Aleem told reporters. "Our officers are being trained using the most advanced programmes and technologies, either via scholarships, or joint exercises with strong navies in the Mediterranean."
The Egyptian navy participates in more than 17 joint exercises a year with French, American, Italian, British, German, Saudi Arabian and other Arab naval forces.