France, Egypt naval exercise underway in Toulon waters
Egyptian naval warships arrived at Toulon - Photo courtesy of meretmarine.com
By HANAN FAYED

CAIRO: A number of Egyptian naval warships arrived at Toulon port in France Thursday to begin a joint maritime exercise, military spokesperson Ahmed Ali said in a statement.

“This Egyptian-French training began over 25 years ago in the Egyptian territorial waters and is being executed in the French territorial waters for the first time,” Rear Admiral Hussein el-Gezeree said at a press conference aboard an Egyptian ship, according to the statement.

According to Mer et Marine, Egypt’s naval force is participating in an exercise called “Cleopatra 2014,” which is organized every two years and consists of two former U.S. frigates, or warships, two missile patrol ships made in France and Germany and a supply ship that was made in Germany.

“(This exercise) marks the willingness of both navies to increase cooperation in the field of naval air operations,” Mer et Marine reported the French navy as saying.

The exercise will continue until June 6 and will include training on anti-submarine, anti-surface, anti-craft control warfare and the investigation of vessels.

The Egyptian frigate “Alexandria,” which can carry two helicopters, is 135.6 meters long and has a displacement of 3,660 tons. It is armed with a crew of 215 men and is equipped with modern weaponry, including surface to air and anti-ship missiles and torpedo tubes.

The second Egyptian frigate, “Rasheed,” is 134 meters long with a displacement of 4,260 tons and occupied by 285 sailors. It is armed with Harpoon missiles, an anti-submarine system and torpedo tubes among other weapons. The ship can also carry one helicopter.

The two Egyptian ships patrolled during the October 6, 1973, and April 25, 1982, battles that marked key victories over Israel, and are as fast as 36 knots. They are equipped with weaponry and can carry four anti-ship missiles.

Another Egyptian ship is a 114 meter long supply ship with a displacement of 3,680 tons, manned by 82 sailors. It is also equipped for self defense, Mer et Marine reported.

On the regional level, Ali said in a Tuesday statement that military training between Egypt and Bahrain would continue for several days.

Those exercises include training on freeing hostages, facing different forms of aggression, various combat skills and dealing with explosives.

Ali added that the training comes in the framework of military exercises with friendly neighboring countries, to enhance military cooperation and exchange experiences, in order to reach highest levels of efficiency and combat readiness.

Bahrain News Agency reported Tuesday that the training includes stages of military actions and joint defense, in addition to exercises on practical applications and tactical maneuvers.

The European Union suspended export of arms equipment to Egypt in August 2013, preceded by the U.S., which also pulled out of Operation Bright Star with Egypt and withheld some aid.

The moves followed the violent dispersal of Rabaa al-Adaweya and Nahda Square sit-ins, which resulted in the death of hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in one day.

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