In November 1983, Egypt ordered a class of nine 93-foot patrol craft for service with its Coast Guard, a division of the Egyptian Navy. The first three were completed in 1985 at Morgan City, Louisiana, by Swiftships, Inc., which provided kits for the assembly of the other half dozen by Osman Ahmed Osman & Co., Ismaila, Egypt. Originally lightly armed with a .50-caliber machine gun forward and a 20-mm gun aft, the boats have been rearmed with surplus Soviet-supplied weapons: a twin 25-mm/80-caliber mount is now located forward and a single 14.5mm machine gun aft. The steel-hulled craft, which frequently are sighted in Egyptian harbors and coastal waters, displace 102 tons full load and can achieve 27 knots on their twin MTU diesels. The Egyptian Coast Guard also operates 11 similar-sized, locally designed craft, more than 50 smaller patrol boats, and 4 small tugboats.
Other than the United States, almost no nations operate government-owned strategic sealift fleets other than amphibious warfare ships. One exception is Great Britain's 23,986 gross registered ton vehicle carrier Sea Crusader , chartered in October for two years (with an option for extension) for operation by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary to support the newly formed Joint Rapid Deployment Force. The 528foot, 17.4-knot Sea Crusader , shown here arriving at Portsmouth in February, was completed in Japan as the mercantile Celestine on 4 October 1996 and will carry some 350 armored vehicles, trucks, and other wheeled equipment on her three internal cargo decks, debarking them via a 150-ton-capacity non-slewing stern ramp. Additional light vehicles can be carried on the open upper deck. Crewed by only 17, the Sea Crusader is to be joined by a second similar ship later this year.
The 2,689-ton, 372-foot Italian Navy Alpino -class frigate Carabiniere has been converted to act as trials ship for the Alenia-Elsag SPY-790 EMPAR target designation and tracking radar planned to be carried by French and Italian units of the troubled tripartite "Horizon Frigate" program; the British ships are to have the Siemens-Plessey Sampson radar. A tall lattice tower has been erected in place of the Caribiniere 's former helicopter hangar to support the EMPAR's antenna, and all but one of the six single 76-mm dual-purpose gun-mounts have been removed. A single launcher, aimed to starboard, for Milas antisubmarine cruise missile firing trials has replaced the Menon antisubmarine mortar forward of the bridge, and the ship retains two triple antisubmarine torpedo tubes to complement her hull-mounted and variable-depth sonars. The Caribiniere 's sister Alpino recently completed conversion to serve as a mine countermeasures and combat divers' support ship.