Gunboat gift ‘too big’ for Cyprus naval base

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Instead the 61m (200ft) boat – Cyprus’ first open sea vessel – will have to moor at the civilian ports of either Limassol or Larnaca when it arrives next week, said the Phileleftheros newspaper.

Oman paid for a £3.4m refit of the boat, which weighs 948 tonnes and has a top speed of 15 knots.

It was given as a ‘thank you’ for the warm welcome the Oman defence minister received when he visited the island in November 2013.

The vessel, due to arrive at the island next week, is being crewed by Omani and Cypriot officers during its voyage to the island so that sailors from the sultanate can train the new crew.

A second craft, bought from Israel, is expected to be added to the modest Cypriot navy in December.

They are expected to be used to patrol Cyprus’s coastal waters where energy giants including France’s Total and Italy’s Eni are exploring for natural gas and oil.

Cyprus is now looking to extend its Evangelos Florakis naval base.

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