The UK and Egypt are working together to develop maritime cooperation as part of their wider defence partnership, to counter the shared threats from global extremism. As part of this effort, HMS OCEAN – part of the Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) Task Group, under the command of the Commander Amphibious Task Group (COMATG) – arrived in Alexandria on 15 October for two days; the first time a UK flag Ship has visited Alexandria in eight years. The Task Group has deployed to the Mediterranean and Middle East to carry out exercises with partner nations before returning to the UK next year. HMS OCEAN is an amphibious assault ship, the Royal Navy’s only Landing Platform Helicopter ship and its Fleet Flag Ship.
The visit was attended by British Ambassador to Egypt John Casson, the British Embassy’s Defence Attache and Deputy Defence Attache, and Egyptian Military representatives. The programme of events included a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Sailor, a joint UK-Egypt dive, a capability demonstration at sea and a series of joint exercises and training with the Egyptian Navy. A press conference was held with Captain Robert Pedre, Commander Jude Terry and Ambassador Casson, and members of the Ship’s company enjoyed a historical tour of Alexandria and playing a football match against the Egyptian Navy.
The joint exercises come in the context of follow up to President AlSisi’s visit to London and the recent visits to Cairo by UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon in which it was decided to pursue deeper maritime cooperation, strengthening the security dialogue with Egypt, and providing a stabilising influence across the wider region. The UK and Egypt share a national interest in the security and stability of the Eastern Mediterranean in tackling criminal people smuggling, terrorist arms supplies and piracy, and our naval forces are a foundation of our work in these areas.
The visit is part of the broader defence relationship already enjoyed between the UK and Egypt. Both countries are fighting shoulder-to-shoulder as key partners in the Global Coalition against Daesh and working together to tackle extremism in Libya. The UK also supports Egypt as a key ally in combating terror through delivering counter-IED and close protection training, and providing vital equipment to the Egyptian army.
HMS OCEAN Captain Robert Pedre said:
The visit of the Royal Navy’s largest operational warship serves to underline the importance of the relationship between the UK and Egypt and it has been my pleasure to be able to host senior Egyptian dignitaries on-board as well as to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I am particularly pleased to be able to share best practice with members of the Ship’s company of the Egyptian Navy’s Mistral Class ships and am very much looking forward to exercising with the Egyptian Navy Ship Tahya Misr and HMS Bulwark.
UK Ambassador to Egypt John Casson said:
This week Britain and Egypt open a new page in the long and proud history of the two great navies. Events ebb and flow, but our shared interests are permanent and they demand constant partnership. As both navies transform with world class new ships and equipment we look forward to strong collaboration to protect our people, our economies, our homeland together.