On the sidelines of Egypt Defence Show (EDEX) which took place in Cairo last week (4-7 December), Egypt marked the launch of its first domestically-built, modern frigate.
Built with the support of Germany, the launch of the vessel is a milestone for Egypt as it moves rapidly to modernize its navy and expand its role in supporting regional maritime security.
The launch event took place at the Alexandria Shipyard on December 4 and was attended by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi.
While it is the fourth vessel of the class and uses a German design customized for Egypt, it was the first time the country has built a sophisticated warship domestically. President Al Sisi and the Navy Commanders congratulated the shipyard for developing the vessel made entirely they said by “Egyptian hands.”
Among the achievements they are highlighting is the speed at which the vessel, a Meko A200 frigate named Al-Jabbar (The Mighty in Egyptian) was built. They announced in January 2022 that Egypt was starting the construction project at the Alexandria Shipyard, The Maritime Execuitve reported.
The vessel is closely following her sister ships, two of which have been commissioned while Germany is completing the third for delivery next year. The two remaining ships of the class are expected to be commissioned before the end of 2024.
The vessels are adapted from a design developed by German shipbuilder Blohm + Voss, which today is part of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS). While the design dates to the 1970s and was first deployed in the 1980s, it has been updated several times and is considered to be a versatile base that can be adapted to multiple missions. In addition to being deployed by Germany, the MEKO family of vessels is used by a broad range of nations in all parts of the globe.
Egypt initially proposed two of the vessels later expanding the order to four and winning support from the German government to proceed with the plan to replace aging U.S. Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates. The order for the vessels was placed in September 2018 as part of the naval modernization program valued at €2.3 billion and approved seven months later by the German government.
The Egyptian vessels are approximately 397 feet (121 meters) in length and displace 3,700 tons. They are propelled with a combination of gas turbines and diesels which give them a reported flank speed of 28 to 29 knots. The vessels are reported to be outfitted with a sophisticated array of armaments ranging from missiles and torpedoes to electronic warfare systems. They have a 127 mm main gun as well as four 20 mm cannons.
The first of the four vessels was handed over to Egypt in October 2022, just 38 months after the contract became effective and three years after first steel was cut. Known as Al-Aziz, the vessel was built in Bremerhaven in a partnership between TKMS and its subsidiaries B+V and HDW. The first vessel has already become operational for Egypt while the second vessel, named Al-Qahhar, was handed over in May 2023 and the third vessel, named Al-Qqadeer, is still being outfitted in Bremerhaven.
TKMS consulted with the Egyptian shipbuilders for the construction of the fourth unit of the class in Egypt.
Once the class is fully commissioned, Egypt plans to deploy the vessels both in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea as well as assisting with the security of the Suez Canal. With their modern capabilities, they are expected to contribute to regional maritime security efforts.
Alexandria Shipyard (ASY) was established in 1962 inside the free zone of Alexandria port. ASY is a pioneer company in shipbuilding, ship repair and heavy industries in Egypt and the Middle East. The company is affiliated to the Marine industries & Services organization owned by the Egyptian Ministry of Defence.
Located in the north of Egypt on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, the company has a long history going back nearly 100 years. It was altered and expanded In the 1960s and is now the largest shipbuilding and ship repairing enterprise in Egypt.