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    Emperor Haile Selassie president over Ethiopia's Navy Day celebrations on Monday (18 February). Warships from?

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    Emperor Haile Selassie president over Ethiopia's Navy Day celebrations on Monday (18 February). Warships from seven foreign Navies gathered at the Haile Selassie Naval Base at Massawa to take part in manoeuvres and join the review of the Ethiopian fleet by the Emperor from the flagship H.M.S.Ethiopia.

    A total of ten foreign ships from the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, Pakistan, Iran, Sudan and the United States joined in the day's events. Part of the programme was the graduation ceremony of Ethiopian Naval officers, and it was preceded by a sports competition between home and visiting naval units.

    The Imperial Ethiopian Navy was founded in 1955 and has a total complement of 15 vessels ranging from a coastal minesweeper to four harbour defence craft. The Imperial Navy is staffed by just under 1,400 officers and men, Besides the Massawa Naval Base and College, there is a Marine Commando Training School at Embaticalla and a base at Assab that is being expanded to include a ship repair facility.

    The presence of the foreign ships at massawa is an indication of the growing strategic importance of the Indian Ocean in the eyes of the world's major power -- particularly when there are plans to reopen the Suez Canal. According to western military correspondents, France, the United Kingdom and the United States are consolidating their position in the Indian Ocean, Apparently, the three powers are predicting a Societ naval build-up in the Indian Ocean as soon as Suez reopens -- with the sailing time from the Black Sea becoming much shorter.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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