Amidst increased Turkish sabre-rattling and the acquisition of an oil and gas drill by Ankara, the Republic of Cyprus is scheduled to receive today at the Port of Larnaca the first P61 open sea offshore patrol vessel that it has acquired through an inter-state deal with Israel.
The boat will patrol Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the face of mounting Turkish threats.
According to a report on the website of the Cypriot daily Phileleftheros, the official ceremony incorporating the offshore patrol vessel in the Cyprus National Guard will take place on 15 January, at the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base.
Cypriot officers and National Guard members are being trained on the boat, according to the report.
The P61 can carry a wide range of weapons systems, included guided missiles, and has an ultra-modern system to monitor sea, land, and air targets.
It was purchased via a government-to government agreement with Israel and was constructed by Israeli Shipyards at Haifa.
The boat has a displacement of 430 tonnes, is 62 metres in length, and has a maximum speed of 32 knots. It can reportedly accommodate a crew of 30 and a special forces unit.
Cyprus’ Defense Minister Christophoros Fokaides has held numerous meetings with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, in the context of a strong, bilateral security cooperation.
“With this vessel, we will able to respond in a better way to the new challenges of maritime and energy security and to address humanitarian crises,” Fokaides has said.
The ministry believes that enhancing the country’s naval capacity will allow Cyprus to contribute to the stability of the regional security architecture.