BEIRUT — Egypt received the fourth German-made S-44 submarine at its Alexandria naval base on Monday, the Egyptian Navy announced. The model 209/1400 mod 4 sub was shipped from the German port city of Kiel.
“This latest addition to Egyptian naval forces represents a huge reinforcement for the capabilities of the Egyptian army, which will contribute to the protection of the country’s economic resources in the Mediterranean and Red seas, as well as the Suez Canal,” Egyptian Armed Forces spokesperson Gharib Abdel Hafez said in a statement.
The four diesel-electric submarines received between December 2016 and August 2021 are the result of a 2011 contract between the Egyptian Navy and German company ThyssenKrupp for two subs, and an additional two added in 2015.
Egypt procured the four submarines for €1.4 billion (U.S. $1.7 billion), as the contract for the first two was worth about €900 million, while the second contract is estimated to exceed €500 million, according to German news agency Deutsche-Presse Agentur.
Other than the S-44 boats, Cairo has only four outdated Chinese Type 033 Romeo-class submarines.
In April 2016, German Vice-Chancellor and Economic Minister Sigmar Gabriel met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo, offering Germany’s help in boosting Egypt’s border security.
“The Egyptian government did not ask Germany for a weapons deal during this visit, but there was discussion about supplying two naval submarines. We are ready to fully cooperate with Egypt to secure its borders with Libya,” Gabriel said at the news conference.
Mohamed al-Kenany, who leads the military studies unit at the Cairo-based Arab Forum for Analyzing Iranian Policies, said Egypt is developing its submarine fleet to maintain its place in the region’s naval power balance. But there’s more to come, he told Defense News.
“As many countries in the region are boosting submarine capabilities ... Egypt will not be satisfied with four submarines from Germany,” he said. “Egypt needs to boost this capability since it has two fleets: the Northern Fleet in the Mediterranean and the Southern Fleet in the Red Sea, with the growing challenges and threats to secure navigation [as well as] combat terrorism and arms and terrorists smuggling.”
The S-44 submarine is a 62-meter-long vessel. It comes in at 6.2 meters in diameter, with a surface displacement of 1450 tons. It has eight weapon tubes and can carry 30 crew members.
Agnes Helou was a Middle East correspondent for Defense News. Her interests include missile defense, cybersecurity, the interoperability of weapons systems and strategic issues in the Middle East and Gulf region.