US approves sale of Swiftships patrol boats to Egypt
The United States has approved a possible foreign military sale of 28 metre patrol craft kits and related equipment to Egypt, according to a statement by the US Defence Security Co-operation Agency (DSCA).
The estimated cost of the sale is $129 million, and it includes patrol craft kits, rigid hull inflatable boats, forward-looking infrared systems, computer packages, technical and logistics support services, transportation, spare parts, and other components.
The DSCA said the sale will enhance Egypt’s maritime security capabilities and help it counter threats in the Mediterranean and Red Sea regions. The sale will also support the US foreign policy and national security objectives in the region, by strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries and improving the stability and security of a key partner.
The principal contractor for the sale is Swiftships, a US-based company that has been supplying 28 metre coastal patrol craft (CPC) to the Egyptian Navy for decades. The CPCs are fast and agile vessels that can perform various missions, such as coastal patrol, surveillance, interdiction, search and rescue, and anti-terrorism.
Some of the CPCs are co-produced in Egypt, at the Alexandria Shipyard and the Egyptian Ship Repair and Building Company (ESRBC), under the supervision and assistance of Swiftships. This allows for the transfer of technology and skills, and the creation of jobs and economic opportunities in Egypt.
Swiftships has received several contracts from Egypt in recent years, to deliver a total of 42 CPCs by the end of 2027. For instance, in March 2023, Swiftships said it had received an order for another seven of its 28 metre (CPC), adding to an existing order for six that was contracted in 2022. The 2023 contract brought the total order to 23 boats, including those under construction. The company has also started co-marketing the CPCs to other North African countries that are allied with the US, expanding its market and influence in the region.
Swiftships’ 28 Meter Patrol Boat is designed for multiple roles, including coastal defense, anti-surface operations, Maritime Security Operations (MSO) and Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO), surveillance and intelligence gathering, search and rescue, etc
Egypt is one of the largest customers of Swiftships, and the relationship between the two dates back to the early 1990s, when Swiftships delivered two 54 metre Missile Retrievers and eight 28 metre CPCs to the Egyptian Navy.
The DSCA said the proposed sale of the patrol craft kits and related equipment will not alter the basic military balance in the region, and that Egypt will have no difficulty absorbing the equipment and services into its armed forces.
The sale is subject to the approval of the US Congress, which has 30 days to review the notification and raise any objections or concerns. If approved, the sale will be implemented through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, which is managed by the DSCA and facilitates the transfer of defence articles and services to foreign governments and international organizations.
As a vital element of US foreign policy and national security priorities, enhancing Egypt’s maritime security stands as a prominent objective. Strengthening the bilateral ties between the United States and Egypt is seen as not only beneficial but essential for maintaining regional stability and safeguarding the interests of a strategic ally.
Maritime security, in particular, is important given Egypt’s geographical positioning and control over the Suez Canal, one of the world’s most critical maritime chokepoints. By ensuring the security of this international waterway, global trade routes remain open and unfettered, a direct benefit to the economies and security interests of countries far beyond the Middle East and North Africa.
The partnership between the US and Egypt encompasses a range of collaborations such as military training, intelligence sharing, and transfer of security technologies, with an aim to fortify Egypt against potential maritime threats. These threats might include piracy, trafficking of various kinds, and unauthorized entrance into territorial waters, which could lead to broader regional tension.
The support allocated by the US towards Egypt’s maritime capabilities is also a strategic counterweight against the influence of other regional powerhouses whose interests might not align with Western priorities. By investing in Egypt’s military and economic stability, the US aids in creating an environment where Egypt can uphold not only its own sovereignty but also contribute as a gatekeeper to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean stability.
Furthermore, a robust maritime security framework in Egypt aids in deterring terrorism and preventing the flow of illegal arms and contraband which might otherwise fuel regional conflicts. This concerted effort to shore up security is also a preventive measure to protect vital energy supply routes and ensure the safe passage of millions of barrels of oil transported daily through Egyptian-controlled waters.
Altogether, the commitment to enhancing maritime security in this context is a clear reflection of the intertwined nature of international relationships where the security, economic vitality, and political stability of one nation can significantly impact many others globally.
In 2021, the U.S. Navy transferred three 53-meter Cyclone-class patrol craft to the Egyptian Navy. The three costal ships are USS Hurricane (PC 3), USS Sirocco (PC 6), and USS Thunderbolt (PC 12), and they were decommissioned on 20 March, after decades of U.S. Naval service.