USS Monterey, a guided-missile cruiser, was the first to visit Egypt’s Berenice Naval Base. Photo courtesy U.S. Embassy in Egypt
Aug. 13 (UPI) -- The USS Monterey visited Egypt's Berenice Naval Base on Thursday, the first time a U.S. warship has pulled into the Red Sea base.
The Navy announced the visit to the Berenice Naval Base, which officially opened in January 2020, in a press release that emphasized the closeness between the U.S. and Egypt and the countries' shared security goals.
"This visit exemplifies the strength of U.S.-Egyptian maritime cooperation," U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Jonathan R. Cohen said in the release. "Together we are combating smuggling, trafficking, and piracy, and ensuring safety at sea."
The USS Monterey, a guided-missile cruiser, seized an illicit weapons shipment in May from a stateless sailing vessel in international waters in the North Arabian Sea, according to a Navy press release.
Chinese and Russian-made rifles, anti-tank missiles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and other weapons were seized during the routine flag-verification boarding.
In April, Egypt became the 34th member of the Combined Maritime Forces, a multinational naval coalition that seeks to uphold "the rules-based international order" by confronting terrorist networks and piracy while encouraging regional maritime cooperation and security.
Military and diplomatic officials met and toured the USS Monterey where they toured, chatted with crew and exchanged gifts with the ship's commanding officer, Capt. Joseph A. Baggett, according to a Navy press release.
Among those that visited included U.S. Vice Adm. Brad Cooper and Egyptian Vice Adm. Ahmed Khaled Hassan Saeed, both high-ranking naval commanders. Also present were Cohen and Commodore Waleed Aly Atiaa, commanding officer of Berenice Naval Base.