Charlottetown takes a break in Egypt

LS Mitchel Holden (left) and PO2 Nathan Kuffner riding Creampuff (right).

LS Mitchel Holden (left) and PO2 Nathan Kuffner riding Creampuff (right).

Lt(N) Bill King, HMCS Charlottetown ~

It was still pleasantly cool when HMCS Charlottetown picked up the pilot at 0630 in the harbour approaches of Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt.

At last count, we had already passed 34 ships at anchor, waiting to enter the harbour.

Alexandria stretches 32 kilometres along the Mediterranean coast at the western edge of the 240 km-wide Nile delta. The word delta originates from the Greek letter delta, which looks like the triangular area at the mouth of the Nile.

During the five kilometre transit from the harbour entrance to the cruise ship terminal, the ship passed neighbourhoods of high density apartments separated by commercial port facilities in an interesting mix of old and new.

Oil refineries were flaring off waste gas in producing fuels for export, while sea container and bulk cargo handlers conducted a brisk business at the 55 slips.

Once alongside sailors were able to enjoy a port visit.

Day-long bus tours arranged by the ship provided the means for crewmembers to visit the Giza Pyramid complex and the Egyptian Museum over two hours away in Cairo. Highlights of the day were viewing King Tutankhamun’s 3,300-year-old funeral mask, and a horse or camel ride around the pyramids. Virtually everyone took advantage of this opportunity with the exception of those few on board who had visited Egypt before.

The most recent visit by an HMC Ship was Fredericton in 2010. Many of the tour operators and guides fondly remember that visit, as there have been few cruise ships since the revolution in 2011. A passenger ship last docked at the cruise ship terminal some two years ago.

Our Egyptian hosts could not have done more for us during this port visit – repeatedly asking our assurance that everything was alright and that we were enjoying our visit. It was more than alright. All on board took away memories of this somewhat exotic country and culture, rather different from Canada.

The port visit even caught the attention of senior leadership.

“I can assure you that the visit was important for NATO as it helped nurture a relationship with a strategically important country, and was important for the Canadian Armed Forces and our national statements of support to peace and security in the region,” wrote Rear Admiral John Newton, Maritime Component Commander (National) to the ship. “Please extend a hearty Bravo Zulu to your ship’s company for a job well done.

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