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First HSI32 fast interceptors arrive at Saudi naval base

The first two HSI32 high-speed interceptors have arrived at Royal Saudi Naval Forces’ (RSNF’s) Ras Mishab base in the Gulf, the Saudi Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 23 January.

The RSNF’s first two HSI32s at the Ras Mishab naval base. (Saudi Ministry of Defence)

The RSNF’s first two HSI32s at the Ras Mishab naval base. (Saudi Ministry of Defence)

It was announced in April 2018 that 39 CMN boats will be delivered to the RSNF, with half of them built by the Zamil Shipyard in Dammam on Saudi Arabia’s Gulf coast. The value of the contract and type of boats involved were not revealed at the time, but a launch ceremony held at CMN’s Cherbourg yard in July 2019 revealed that at least two of them were HSI32s armed with Nexter 20 mm Narwhal remotely operated weapons.

These two boats (315 and 316) were seen in the photographs of the 23 January reception ceremony released by the MoD, which indicated that all 39 boats will be HSI32s.

The photographs also showed that the RSNF’s base at Ras Mishab, about 50 km south of the Kuwaiti border, has been upgraded with a new breakwater and jetty to accommodate the new interceptors. The facility is the base for 34 m Halter-class coastal patrol boats and smaller craft.

In an apparent reference to the 10 Sikorsky MH-60R multirole helicopters that have been ordered for the RSNF, the MoD added that the Eastern Fleet would also receive new combat helicopters in the coming months.

The first MH-60R was formally handed over to the RSNF in the United States in September 2018, after which it was transferred to Naval Station Mayport in Florida, where Saudi aircrew are being trained.

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