The so-called Islamic State has claimed an attack on a moored Egyptian coastguard vessel in the Mediterranean Sea near the Sinai Peninsula.
The attack on 16 July was followed by a statement released by the group, claiming it had sunk a 25 meter Swiftships, fast patrol boat.
The Egyptian army has confirmed that the vessel caught fire after an exchange of small-arms fire with militants onshore and that there were no fatalities among the crew.
IHS IS Analyst Ludovico Carlino said that if this were a guided attack it would indicate IS’s increased capability to target warships off the coast of Sinai, compared with the short-range, inaccurate rocket propelled grenades previously used against ships using the Suez Canal.
“We have previously identified shipping in the Suez Canal as an aspirational jihadist target. While possession of such weapons still makes it unlikely that Islamic State would sink a major vessel, the main damage done by such attacks is likely to be psychological; eroding commercial confidence in the adequacy of security measures, and incurring additional security costs, even when attacks are unsuccessful,” he said.
The group released pictures purporting to show a missile flying towards the vessel and a large explosion on the ship.
“The pictures indicate that a type of guided missile was used. The Islamic State in Sinai recently acquired Kornet anti-tank guided missiles, which it used in the complex attack staged on 1 July in Sheik Zuwaid,” said Carlino.
Swiftships CEO, Shehraze Shah, expressed his solidarity with the government of Egypt, especially with the Egyptian navy and border guard in dealing with the criminal elements responsible for the attack. Shah also said that the company’s president, Jeff Leleux, is currently in Egypt assisting the navy on a new programme.
“We have a long-standing strategic relationship with the Egyptian navy and border guard and wholeheartedly stand ready to assist in any way possible,” said Shah.
The attacked patrol boat is one of several Swiftships vessels currently in use by the Egyptian military. Swiftships’ fast patrol boats were constructed under the strict American Bureau of Shipping and US navy standards and are supposed to be capable of withstanding highly explosive attacks.
The Egyptian military operates several Swiftships class vessels of various lengths and mission requirements. Additional vessels are currently being constructed in Egypt under a coproduction licensing agreement between Swiftships and the Egyptian government. The coproduction programme allows the Egyptian navy to strengthen their maritime defence forces by manufacturing Swiftships vessels in country and using local workforce.