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US, Russian warships flock to strategic Sudan port

Sailors man the rails as the guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) arrived in Port Sudan, Sudan for a scheduled port visit
US destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) arrived in Port Sudan, March 1, 2021. Photo: US Navy

A US Navy military transport ship became the first US Navy ship to visit Sudan in decades, as it arrived at Port Sudan harbor on the Red Sea on February 24.

The USNS Carson City visited Sudan in wake of thawing relations between the US and African country, after decades of US embargo. The ship spent two days in port, before continuing operations in the Red Sea.

Just two days after the visit, Russia announced that one of its newest frigates arrived in Port Sudan on Sunday. The navy said this was the first time a Russian warship has visited the country, which had been designated a state sponsor of terror by the US between 1993 and 2020.

It is worth noting that Russia announced it had entered into an agreement to establish an advanced naval base in Sudan just a month after the former US president Donald Trump announced the US would remove Sudan from the state sponsors of terrorism list in October 2020.

According to Russian reports from November 2020, the base in Sudan would be capable of accommodating up to four surface warships, including nuclear-powered ones. The deal that would be effective for the next 25 years would also allow Russia to transport weapons and ammunitions via Sudan’s ports.

A day after the arrival of the Russian frigate Admiral Grigorovich to Port Sudan, the US Navy announced that one of its guided-missile destroyers arrived at the same port.

USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) is in Port Sudan, where it will provide tours for Sudanese officials in addition to hosting a reception given by both the Sudanese and US military.

“Together with Sudan’s civilian-led transitional government, we are striving to build a partnership between our two armed forces,” said Rear Adm. Michael Baze, director of maritime headquarters, Navy Africa, US Sixth Fleet. “In just the past few months, we have already seen an increase in military-to-military engagements.”

The destroyer is visiting Sudan after seizing thousands of weapons from two stateless dhows off the coast of Somalia in mid-February. The ship is deployed to the Middle East in support of the Combined Maritime Security’s maritime security operations in the region.