By the end of the year, Cyprus will order two more open sea patrol boats as part of upgrading the navy’s operational ability, which includes extending a naval base on the southern coast to host a large number of vessels, Defence Minister Christophoros Fokaides said on Wednesday.
Cyprus has already precured one such vessel from Israel, which was launched in September. Crews are currently being trained to operate the boat’s sophisticated systems, the minister said, speaking at the Charilaos Florakis naval base during an event to mark Saint Nicholas day, the navy’s patron saint.
“At the same time, by the end of the year, we will be in a position to proceed with the decision to award the contract for two more open sea ships,” the minister said.
The competition has finished and the authorities were currently evaluating the bids, he added.
Two more speedboats will be procured for the navy’s special forces.
Added to these were upgrades to the navy’s radar and other systems and recruitment of professional personnel, Fokaides said.
“What would upgrade the navy’s importance decisively is the extension of this naval base,” he added.
The first phase of the work has already started, as has the project of installing electronic surveillance systems.
“The interest shown by friendly countries for this naval base but also the potential of hosting a substantial number of warships, either as part of bilateral relations, or at a European level under the new European defence union, undeniably form the conditions for a significant change of the state of affairs in the wider region,” Fokaides said.
The island has offered its military infrastructure for use as part of the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (Pesco) defence framework to which Cyprus committed along with 22 other member-states.
“The benefits to our country from our participation are obvious and indisputable,” the minister said.