Friday, August 14, 2015

Did Egypt Take Possession of a Russian Tarantul?

Egyptian President el-Sisi and Russian President Putin meet in Moscow - May 9, 2015

Ten months after Russian Air Force tankers deployed to Egypt to support Russian strategic bomber flights...

...six months after Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Egypt...

...five months after Egyptian defense minister General Sedki Sobhi visited his Russian counterpart (General Sergey Shoygu) in Moscow...

...three months after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi visited Moscow on one of Russia's holiest of holidays (Victory Day)...

Exercise Bridge of Friendship-2015

...two months after Egypt and Russia held their first joint naval exercise (Bridge of Friendship-2015)...

...and one week after a Russian Navy patrol ship took part in celebrations marking the opening of the new Suez Canal (attended by Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev)... appears Egypt may have just acquired that same missile-armed patrol ship from Russia.

According to unofficial reporting, the Russian Baltic Fleet's Tarantul-class patrol ship "R-32" was officially handed over to Egypt in a ceremony held in Alexandria, Egypt, on August 10.

[UPDATE: Egyptian officials have now disclosed that "R-32" was transferred from the Russian Navy to the Egyptian Navy.]

"R-32" in Baltiysk -- May 28, 2015

"R-32" is the little ship that no one wanted:
  • laid down at Vympel Shipyard in 1994, launched in 1999, then transferred to the Black Sea for fitting out and sea trials;
  • after being mothballed for several years, "R-32" was transferred back to Vympel Shipyard in 2007 for repairs;
  • transferred to Caspian Flotilla in October-November 2008, then to Makhachkala in the spring of 2009 to prepare it for transfer to Turkmenistan;
  • after Turkmenistan backed out the contract to acquire "R-32", the unit was commissioned into the Russian Navy in June 2010;
  • beyond its participation in annual Navy Day parades in 2010-2013, the unit remained inactive;
  • transferred to Baltic Fleet in October-November 2013;
  • transferred from St. Petersburg to Baltiysk in January 2014;
  • several of the ship's onboard components were inspected and/or repaired earlier this year: M-15E.1 main gas turbine, refrigerator units, Afalina emergency communications radio-buoy, and emergency lighting equipment.
Oddly, there has been no official announcement yet by either country regarding this possible transfer.