Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1362, (28 September - 4 October 2017)
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1362, (28 September - 4 October 2017)

Ahram Weekly

French warships to be built in Alexandria

Ahmed Eleiba reports on the arrival of a new French corvette

 

French warships to be built in Alexandria
French warships to be built in Alexandria

Egypt received its first Gowind class corvette at an official ceremony in the French port of Lorient on Friday. Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian navy Ahmed Khaled, head of the Egyptian delegation at the ceremony, oversaw the raising of the flag on the vessel which has been named Al-Fateh (the Conqueror).

With a range of 4,000 nautical miles and a displacement of 2,540 tonnes Al-Fateh is able to perform a wide range of combat tasks at sea: search and destroy submarines, fire missiles and artillery in combat missions, secure maritime communications lines, guard convoys or individual ships at sea or in port and support and protect land forces during offensive and defensive missions near the shore. It is a multi-purpose vessel suited to preserving the security and ensuring the safety of Egypt’s coasts and territorial waters.

Crew members were trained to handle the corvette’s advanced technology in record time. The training took place in two phases, one in Egypt, the other in France.

Vice Admiral Khaled said the development and modernisation of the Egyptian navy is part of a comprehensive upgrading of the Egyptian Armed Forces in their entirety.

“While receiving Al-Fateh we are also building three more corvettes through a cooperative arrangement between the French Naval Group [builders of Al-Fateh] and the Alexandria Arsenal Company, within the framework of a technology transfer programme. Military vessels require the most advanced technologies, high precision systems that can cope with extremely rapid range changes in fractions of a second,” Khaled told reporters accompanying the Egyptian delegation to France.

It was not enough to possess defence equipment, Khaled continued. You must also be able to deploy it as effectively as possible, which is why Egypt’s military is placing such an enormous emphasis on training.

He went on to underline the complex tasks facing the navy which now include protecting the Zohr natural gas field 200km from the Egyptian coast.

“There is a vast amount of natural wealth that will constitute the growth engine of the Egyptian economy. The Egyptian navy must have the ability to protect these economic resources day and night,” he said.

“The Gowind class corvettes also enhance our maritime capabilities in the face of terrorist threats that target not just the welfare of Egypt but of the region as a whole. Today we see neighbouring countries in the grip of extraordinary instability. This opens opportunities for illegal migration, maritime smuggling of arms and drugs, the movement of terrorist elements and the possibility of waterborne terrorist attacks. We are therefore obliged to modernise our capacities in order to counter the dangers posed to our coastlines along the Mediterranean and Red seas.”

In response to a question on the implications of military manufacturing cooperation between Cairo and Paris Khaled said: “Relations between Egypt and France are outstanding. There are excellent relations between the leaders of the two states and at the level of the general commands of the Armed Forces. These bilateral relations are further enhanced through the implementation of this excellent technological transfer programme.”

“As we take delivery of the Al-Fateh Gowind corvette we are manufacturing three ships of the same class using Egyptian workers at the Alexandria Arsenal Company. They will produce a state-of-the-art combat product equal in quality to that manufactured in France at one of the largest and most advanced maritime defence shipyards in the world.” 

Herve Guillou, CEO of Naval Group, said the company was “particularly proud to announce today’s delivery of the first Gowind corvette to Egypt, a strategic client and partner of the group”.

The handover “bolsters relations between Egypt and France and between the Egyptian and French navies”. The FREMM class frigate Tahya Misr and the two Mistral class helicopter carriers Abdel-Nasser and Sadat, were built at the same shipyard.

Guillou praised the French workers who succeeded in completing the vessel in the time requested by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi.

“It was our duty towards an ally,” he said.

He also lauded how the Egyptian crew had been trained to operate the corvette in record time.

“We are proud of this,” he said, noting the vast array of modern technological features with which the corvette is equipped.

The Gowind features the SETIS advanced combat systems and panoramic sensors and intelligence module (PSIM).

The Naval Group CEO lauded the “strategic” partnership between Egypt and his company, expressed his gratitude for the confidence that Egypt had shown in Naval Group, commended the French government for its commitment to all the programmes requested by Cairo and concluded his speech hailing the fruitful cooperation that will continue with the manufacture of additional corvettes in Alexandria.

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