Egypt’s Naval Operations Expanding Southwards

Egypt navy inaugurates Southern Fleet Command
Looking South. Egypt inaugurates its Navy’s Southern Fleet Command in a ceremony attended by the president. Purpose: To secure complete control over the theatre of naval operations in the Red Sea area.

By Ahmed Eleiba | for Ahram Weekly,

The Egyptian Navy’s Southern Fleet Command was officially inaugurated on 5 January in a ceremony attended by the president and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, the prime minister, the minister of defence, the army chief-of-staffs, the commander-in-chief of the navy and senior military officers.

The creation of the new command signals a qualitative leap in the capacities of the Egyptian navy in terms of planning, organisation and military hardware.

The Southern Fleet is composed of destroyer, missile craft, coastal patrol and special forces units. Of particular note are the Mistral-class helicopter carrier the Gamal Abdel-Nasser and the Russian-made Molniya-class missile craft, the Ahmed Fadel, which Moscow presented to Egypt in August 2015.

“The Southern Fleet Command, with its new naval formations, offers a powerful shield against anyone who might venture to violate Egyptian territorial waters,” said Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Navy Rear Admiral Ahmed Khaled Hassan Said, adding that such a shield was crucial at a time “when the region is awash with threats and challenges to Egyptian national security”.

The navy has recently undertaken a series of parallel programmes “to bolster weapons systems, build the individual combatant and develop the infrastructure of ports and naval bases,” said Said.

In addition to the Mistral-class helicopter carrier and the Russian-made P-32 Molniya-class missile craft, Said listed other new additions to the fleet including the Suleiman Ezzat missile craft, the FREMM multi-purpose frigate Tahya Misr, the Mistral-class helicopter carrier the Anwar Sadat, a number of Swift craft as well as the recently acquired Type 209/1400-class submarine.

Another crucial component of the navy’s development is the local manufacture of military vessels, from high-speed coastal patrol craft, tugboats and escort boats to Gowind corvettes, manufactured by the Alexandria Arsenal company.

The commander of the navy also noted that Egypt will soon receive another French-made Gowind-class corvette after which three more ships of this class, manufactured locally in partnership with France, will be added to the fleet later. He added that with these systems Egypt will have laid the foundations of a modern navy capable of carrying out all the tasks assigned to it by the general command of the Egyptian Armed Forces.

Egypt has the sixth strongest navy in the world, according to a recent ranking by Global Firepower compiled after the addition of the Amstral but before the addition of the Type 209/1400-class submarine. The Iranian navy ranks fourth while those of Israel and Turkey rank 36th and 14th respectively. The Egyptian navy is the only one in the Middle East to possess an aircraft carrier.

According to official military sources, the purpose of creating the Southern Fleet Command was to secure complete control over the theatre of naval operations in the Red Sea area. Egypt has a 1,500km-long coast along the vital maritime artery that links Bab Al-Mandeb, the southern gateway between the Red Sea, the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden, with the entrances to Aqaba and the Suez Canal, gateway to the Mediterranean where Egypt has another 1,000km of coastline.

Sources say security arrangements in the Red Sea, in tandem with regional security developments, required a stronger Egyptian naval presence along the Red Sea coast not only to facilitate the management of maritime traffic but to strengthen Egypt’s deterrent capacities in the face of the threats in the Red Sea region, especially in the vicinity of Bab Al-Mandeb given the deterioration in the state of security of Yemen.

According to Mohamed Kamal, a political science professor at Cairo University, there is a race to establish military bases in Djibouti, strategically poised in the Horn of Africa overlooking Bab Al-Mandeb. The US has established its largest military base in Africa there, Camp Lemmonier, where more than 4,000 troops are stationed. France has retained a base since the colonial era, where 2,000 troops are currently deployed. Western countries are not alone in this competition, says Kamal. Since 2011 a division of Japan’s defence force has been stationed in Djibouti. More recently, the Chinese reached an agreement with Djibouti to establish a base, China’s first military installation abroad.

“The Red Sea region is important to all these countries because it is the major transport route for oil,” says Kamal. “The region is becoming an arena for US-Chinese and Chinese-Japanese rivalry. Saudi Arabia has also entered the arena. A few weeks ago the Djibouti foreign minister agreed to a Saudi military presence. He said that Saudi military leaders had inspected parts of the country that will host Saudi military forces.”

Many countries have set their sights on neighbouring Eritrea which also overlooks the Red Sea. There, Kamal said, “[…]the UAE is currently building a military base which it has already started to use for aerial operations”.

In 2015 the UAE signed an agreement with Eritrea to use the Assab port for military purposes.

Qatar is also in on the game. According to Kamal, it has been trying to expand its influence in Eritrea for years. It mediated a border dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti and succeeded in brokering a peace agreement between them in Doha in 2010 after which Qatari soldiers were deployed as a peacekeeping force. […]

“If we expand our scope somewhat to include the east African countries that form an extension of the Red Sea and Horn of Africa we also find a growing Turkish role,” says Kamal. “President Erdogan has made repeated visits to the region.”

The bases and agreements mentioned by Kamal are among the growing signs of international competition to establish a military presence and influence in the Red Sea, Horn of Africa and eastern African region. The area constitutes part of Egypt’s strategic depth and is, therefore, crucial to its national security. By setting up the Southern Fleet Command Egypt is designating the Red Sea region and its extensions as an operational sphere, sending an important message to international and regional powers that Egypt has vital interests in the area that it is determined to safeguard.

General Talaat Moussa, Chairman of the National Security Studies Department at the Higher Nasser Military Academy, explained that the purpose of creating the fleet is to “strengthen security and protect the Egyptian state in its regional spheres of security which, in terms of maritime security, extend from the Zagros Mountains in Iran to the Straits of Gibraltar in the western Mediterranean and from the Horn of Africa to the sources of the Nile”.

“The mission of the fleet within this sphere is to perform vital tasks that include securing the eastern Egyptian coastline and ensuring the safety and stability of maritime traffic at Bab Al-Mandeb and navigation through the Suez Canal.” The task has been made more urgent by “the threats that Iran poses via the Houthi movement, its proxy in Yemen”.

General Moussa stressed that though the fleet’s main mission is to deter potential threats to Egypt it will also perform logistical functions within the Arab regional framework. The fleet is prepared “to offer safety, security and rescue assistance to our Arab brothers in the Gulf”. It will also undertake anti-smuggling operations in the Red Sea where small islands have been used for arms and drugs smuggling.

51 thoughts on “Egypt’s Naval Operations Expanding Southwards

  1. This is indeed an interesting article. I did some reading a few days ago about the Egyptian Navy and their newly acquired best in class Mistral combat/attack ships, I figured they are up to something. I have a feeling something is in the works.

    I hope their plan includes Horn Africa, and Somalia specifically. I think this is the best time for Egypt to invade Somalia and unite the country. They should give the TPLF 48 hours to leave Somaliland and all the other lands or face the mighty Egyptian Navy.

    1. “Unfortunately”, I cannot agree more…..and that is what we call a “Balance of Power” and in return, the Horn of Africa will be in Peace….
      The United Somalia issues seems to be a “Guaranteed ONE”, and hope it is SO!
      Once there is a United and a Strong Somalia, well, here we go…
      The tiny whxre Djibouti issue will follow suit and the TPLF will have only an economic interest there..

      1. I wonder why every article in this forum is turned to be tplf business.
        Egypt= something to do with tplf
        Djibouti =” ” ” ”
        Eritrea= ” ” ”
        Somalia = ” ” ” “..
        USA. The same.
        Can’t you see how mighty woyane is.l love the feeling of it.

        1. Regatse hareu komal lemanai Woyane.

          You cannot see nothing but shit because you have and will have your head buried in shit up to your eyeballs.

        2. You may want to check Tigraionline where every discussion turns into a Shaebia cursing game, even when the topic is about Uganda or South Sudan. That is when I confirmed the depth of Shaebia’s infiltration the Psychi of Woyanistan. They just can’t spend a minute without mentioning their God, the creator, Shaebia. Eritreans are a little moderate when it comes to TPLF. They see it as an appendices and a parasite that needs to be radiated. And that is happening as we speak.

          1. ~
            “Eritreans are a little moderate when it comes to TPLF. They see it as an appendices and a parasite that needs to be radiated.”


        3. Coco:
          Are your serious?
          Aside from sneaking in between the USA legs, how in the world can the TPLF be a “Mighty” Force?
          I thought you are the ONE but the one panicking right an dleft….and being over-obsssessed with the so called “tiny” Eritrea?
          It would make sense,as some one-your very own one in your very own TOL told that your obsession with Eritrea and blaming Eritrea for everything that happens in Ethiopia is due to the Mighty Shabbo.

          1. Justice
            If tplf is not mighty. How on earth is the so called warsay n yekalo which are the “mighty guardians” ???? Of the country unable to clear it from their occupied land.the so called USA is behind it is an illusion created by your leader to divert the main question of the youth.
            And some of you are refering me as TOL.i am just a guy interested on some of the issues on this forum.

          2. "aya jibo satamahege bela" · Edit

            “”mighty guardians” ???? ” Referening from killing each other was the best option Eritrea took but you guys didn’t see beyond. Take forexmple Eritrea was attacke by Yemen. That was solved by international court decision. DJ’s case rested for Eritrea refrain itself from war but opt for medium and invited parties to interfer in between. Yrs and our case was sent for justice and decision was made but you refrain to accept the reality instead believe in fighting. Eritrea was sanctioned but you were armed. The 30 years is enough for us. The 1998 war was abslotely unnecessary.

          3. Ethiopia is armed to are right.but still begging Eritrea to come to the table and talk about it.if agree we can make miner changes to the decision if not we will apply it as it is.this was Ethiopia’s stand for the last how many years.if Ethiopia had a need for war it had done it when Eritrea inter the 25 km buffer zone.

    2. TPLF is ally of Somalia, they helped us install the former internationally-recognised Transitional government of Somalia to Mogadishu, while Egypt on the other hand were funding terrorists and stealing the Organs of our Somali people in Cairo and dumping their bodies in the sea.

      Somalia number one enemy is
      (1) Egypt

      1. Egypt will not put a feet on Djibouti soil.that is for sure.they might try Somalia for their dirty job.but i think the somalis are aware of that. Collaboration of Somalia Djibouti and Ethiopia is a huge loss for Egyptian..

        1. Why do you think Egypt is your enemy? If you can, please explain in a meaningful way. I like your name by the way and I will tell you why later.

          1. Forto
            Egypt is our enemy because
            1.they funded ethiopian rebel in eritrea like g 7 and OLF
            2.they work tirelessly to sabotage our peace by funding the unrest in amhara and oromo regions
            3.they threatened to bomb our millennium dam.
            The list go on and on

        2. TPLF is the odd man in these alliances. It will ultimately be scraped for a better deal with Egypt. Just wait and see, hopefully you will still have TPLF by then.

        3. Somalia has always be a strategic not only to Egypt, but the the whole Arabs and the Western Countries, Somalia is the gateway of African and the Middle East, Somalia is the face of the Horn of African and has the longest coastline in mainland African.

          For Egypt to put Ethiopia under siege then surely it needs Somalia on its side, Somalia is the only country that can hurt Ethiopia and Ethiopia is the only country that can also hurt Somalia, if Ethiopia and Somalia were peaceful neighbors then Eritrea wouldn’t even existed today I’m sure lol neither Somaliland or Somalia would never have go through that 20 years of madness and al Qaeda wouldn’t even arrived.

          In that long 20 years of war Somalia have understood their enemies and their friends so last time when the Egyptians government including minsters visited Mogadishu they were kicked out and were put in a flight back to their dirty mud village Egypt.

          Today Egypt is building a military base in South Sudan while Turkey is building a military base in Somalia, this shows the distance between Egypt and Somalia.

      2. Well, I say kudos to TPLF and Kenyans are enjoying by destroying your nomad land, before you were muscling with Ethiopia to take Ogden as for Kenya your dishdahs/jalaby fell off because of British forces are there now enjoy your half star Somalia not greater Somalia with 5 stars !!!

        1. Somalia was already divided into tribes state before TPLF even took power So i wouldnt blame TPLF for all the problems in Somalia, the one who destroyed Somalia was Mohammed side Barr for being a puppet for the Arabs and attacking his own people.

          Isaias Afwerki is a younger version of Mohammed siad Barr.

        1. Why everything has to be war? It’s true there’s six million Somali population in the Ogaden but these Somalis are Ethiopians citizens who love and adore their country (Ethiopia) they even gave their lives and their limbs in the name just to liberate assab port from Eritrea.

          Ps 2017 seem to be a bless day for Somalia, the election is going perfectly and American drones are flying 24/7 hunting the terrorists Egypt armed.

          1. We are talking about Somalia, not Ogaden region of Ethiopia.

            I love to see a united Somalia and I think Egypt should do everything it can to make this a reality. Once for all, warlords should be eradicated in Somalia.

            Again, just wait and see. I hope you will be around to pick up this conversation at the end of 2017 or early 2018.

      3. Indeed,the “Last Somali War Lord”!!!
        You should be the most “Ignorant, the dumbest and the most inept Somali with no Confidence and self-esteem” to say so that Ethiopia did this and that for you,as it has been but Ethiopia or the TPLF that made Somalia to be broken into pieces led by War Lords.
        Get it real if you are a real Somali.
        Here is the FACT:
        It has been Eritrea and Eritreans that have been fighting for the best interest of Somalia and Somalis…so as to see a Strong and a united Somalia and Somalis.

      4. Woyane killed thousands of Somali civilians, raped your girls, burned several villages and has been doing many more egregious crimes. How dare you say that Woyane is helping Somali people if you are from Somalia

  2. Egypt probably chewing more than it held. A country that always depends on foreign aid and was negotiating fuel aid package with Saudi should probably focus on other priorities.

    1. That is exactly the point.. Egypt knows its priorities right! Aid never used to save the needy, your Ethio is a testimony to that. The failed 3 offensives against Eritrea were fully financed by Aid money.
      However, in the case of Egypt it’s different. Egypt needs a powerful military to protect its interest in the Red Sea, Mediterranean and of course it’s life line ‘Abbay Wenz’. BTW unlike Ethiopia, Egypt never had to appeal to UN and international community for hand out due to hunger. Egypt is not rich, but always managed to feed its people, I wish I could say the same about Ethiopia with its 10 huge rivers..

  3. Why are these countries jostling for positions in the Horn of Africa unlike ever seen before? Is it to keep on eye on each other or jostling for contracts, opportunities and interest? Did Dijbouti cause this trend by having foreigner military bases? We have bits of information, but not the whole story.

    1. I would blame Djibouti, too. I am not privy to what is causing it to accept everyone that wants to own a corner in that country, though. That of Egypt is understandable. Egypt has a lot at stake if Bab el Mandeb is not safe. It would mean a loss of a large part of its national income.

    2. You ask great question. I don’t know the answer to it either. But, but I think, all this may be about controlling the cost of transportation through the Red Sea. Have you noticed that the cost of oil has been about $40 per barrel – down from $120 – but the cost at the pump essentially same? I have, as many as well. The answer, according to some experts, has to due with the rising cost of transportation through Red Sea, largely security and insurance related. Therefore, they claim, if this trend continues, the Saudi Turkish plan to built a pipeline directly to EU would be economically sound for them to purse. If this cost issue is correct, even half of it, Egypt surely need to worry about it — and do all it can to keep the area safe to drive cost down.

  4. I am surprised the professor buys “the Israel and Iran in Eritrea” lies spread by the “opposition” and Ethiopia. I would have thought that people like him would ascertain the veracity of this kind of rumor!

  5. As Saudi Arabia and Gulf states scramble the Red sea and the horn of Africa, Egypt is saying, fine, you might have a foothold in those countries and open expensive military base. Here I am coming with a fleet of my best destroyers and helicopter carriers to effectively open my own mobile, air and naval base on the red sea.

    This move by Egypt is a game changer. It has the [6]th largest and strongest navy in the world and creating a mobile naval and air base is not difficult to Egypt as it is tough for the others. Here we go now. The game plan is taking shape and any country that is not aligned with the Egypt-UAE-Eritrea-Qatar and in some way Sudan – Saudi Arabia is about to doom. Even Salva Kiir get the picture more clearer and align himself with the group, for better or worse. Now the loser in this game plan is of course the TPLLF regime of Ethiopia.

    1. Thanks for your interesting thought on this topic. You are right, TPLF Ethiopia has no say on what’s going on in the area. In the end, TPLF looses regardless. Interesting.

  6. One thing we can say in confidence about Egypt is, the power it had geopolitically speaking has been erroded by the unity of the Horn minus one bad apple in the region. Sudan, Somali, Kenya or Djibouti would not allow Egypt to play one against the other to have the influence it once had. We are also adding one more memeber to the AU(Moroco) this month and Sudan coming to trade in full force makes Egypt irrelevant to the Horn. Expanding Naval operations while bombs going off every week in Cairo, aid to jump start its economy and Saudi wants your neck on the silver platter, its nearly impossible to come ahead. Even shabo is too weak to be used as usual by the Arabs except harboring paper tiger opposition in Asmara. But there is a bridge project proposal by middleast development to connect Djibouti and Yemen once it’s safe of course and Somali is strong enough, Ethiopia can send an invitation out to these losers. Speaking of AU meeting, is wedi afom going to attend or should we except his sidekicks?

    1. How is Woyane’s Navy these years? Oooops Woyane’s Ethiopia is Landlocked. Anyway, Egypt will make sure USA Food Stamp will arrive at the Chat Port of JaBooty safe.

      1. This is what the navy of the Woyane land looks like

        Crayon painting on a wall of a seashore with a Woyane navy seals trained by his handlers :))


      2. LOL, they dont even have air force anymore. 3rd grade TPLF captains with fake college degrees can’t land those Russian planes.

      3. B.Adal, you are mistaken.. Weyane’s navy is based in Lake Tana to fight the Egyptian navy which is based in the Red Sea or to defend the the unfinished

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