Two British minesweepers, HMS Abdiel and HMS Maxton, arrived at Gibraltar on Wednesday (27 March) on their way to the Suez Canal for mine clearing operations.
SV ZOOM TO MV HMS Abdiel enters harbour
SV HMS Maxton enters harbour
MV Name plate on HMS Bossington PULL OUT TO MV minesweeper at anchor
Initials BB/1727 DN/BB/1734
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Background: Two British minesweepers, HMS Abdiel and HMS Maxton, arrived at Gibraltar on Wednesday (27 March) on their way to the Suez Canal for mine clearing operations.
Thay joined HMS Bossing ton which was already waiting at Gibraltar.
So far the Egyptian Government has not formerly asked the British Government to help with clearing the mine laden canal, but this is expected within the next two weeks.
Already senior United States naval officers, including Rear Admiral Brian McCauley who led the clearing of mines from Haipeng harbour in North Vietnam, have had talks with the Suez Canal Authority in Port Said about methods of clearing the canal.
So far the Soviet Navy has not said it will help in the operations. However Soviet participation is expected as they are reported to be eager to prevent any secret weapons which may be in the canal from falling into Western hands.
However, there is still considerable doubt over the re-opening of the canal. Egyptian officials say the canal will be open within six months but Western experts say it could easily be a full year or longer before the first ships pass through.
The final cost of clearing the canal, excluding restoration costs, could be as high as GBP 15 million (36 million dollars).