Two Saudi Badr-class corvettes and an Al-Jawf (Sandown)-class mine countermeasures vessel are seen at Assab in Eritrea on 15 November 2017. (© 2017 DigitalGlobe, Inc)
By Jeremy Binnie | Janes
Vessels from the Royal Saudi Naval Forces’ (RSNF’s) Gulf-based Eastern Fleet have been seen in the Red Sea port of Eritrea for the first time, satellite imagery has confirmed.
Two Badr-class corvettes and an Al-Jawf (Sandown)-class mine countermeasures vessel were present at Assab on 15 November. Both classes are used by the Eastern Fleet based in the Gulf at Al-Jubayl, but not the Western Fleet based at Jiddah.
Only naval vessels from the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE’s) navy have been seen before at Assab, from where they support the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen and enforce the associated naval blockade. There were two of the UAE’s six Baynunah-class corvettes, one of two Murray Jib-class corvettes, four Ghannatha fast transport boats, and various landing ships present on 15 November.
The Eastern Fleet appears to have already deployed some of its Siddiq-class corvettes to help enforce the naval blockade. The Western Fleet normally operates two of the RSNF’s nine Al-Sadiqs, but four were present at the southern Saudi port of Jizan in November 2016.
The larger Badr class was not seen in the Red Sea until 26 August, when one was present in Jizan along with an Al-Jawf class.
Egyptian Navy vessels have also been stationed at Jizan, with two Ramadan-class corvettes generally present in its commercial port, although one of the newer Ambassador IV-class corvettes was present in August 2016.