Middle Eastern Navies

Cold War Middle East Naval Forces (1947-1990)

The “Middle East” idea is a relatively new one, linked first with the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1920 which ruled large sways of these territories, and to post-WW2 decolonisation. The middle east has been associated ever since with a trouble region mostly linked to Islamism and issues between Israel and Arab countries, and Arab countries among themselves (like the Sunni and Chiite).
During the cold war these countries gradually accessed to a Navy, mostly leftover of past colonial leftovers, or surplus ships purchased and often modernized.

During the past century, the usual list gave Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (Previously Trucial Oman). Outside religion, resources and especially petroleum has been a source of contention in the region, but also a wealth on which Arab countries are building sometimes colossal armies out of proportion of a real regional threat, like the Saudi army. However these countries are located in a continental and partly desertic landmass, but access to the sea, wether it was the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Persian gulf, or even more remotelly, Black and Caspian seas. The Suez canal acted as a natural border and hinge as well between Africa and the Middle East and by extension Egypt and Libya, even Sudan are extended into this scope. Today all of these navies has considerable capabilities, with much higher budgets.

ENS Anouar El Sadat on her way to Egypt’s coastal governorate of Alexandria. She is the only assault ships of the LHD type in service in the middle East making the Egyptian Navy one of the strongest in the eastern Mediterranean, with Turkey as a solid contender. Turkey is now building its own aircraft carrier.

In this page we will cover superficially these various fleets, their specifics, history and nomenclature, with each time a sneak peak into their ‘modern era’ state (post 1990 to 2020).


Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates