ENS Gamal Abdel Nasser (L1010) is an Egyptian Navy amphibious assault ship, a type of helicopter carrier, of the French-designed Mistral class. It was originally built for the Russian Navy and underwent sea trials. Subsequently the contract was cancelled by France and agreement on compensation reached with the Russian government. Egypt and France concluded the deal to acquire the two former Russian Mistral for roughly 950 million euros. Egypt is considered the first and only country in Africa and the Middle East to possess an aircraft carrier of such type.
The Russian government placed an order for the ship in 2011. The construction of the ship would be shared between the countries with France building about 60 percent and Russia 40. Work started in France, in Saint-Nazaire, on 1 February 2012 and in the Russian Baltiysky Zavod shipyard in St. Petersburg in October 2012. Russia would send its parts to France for final assembly. The ship was expected to join the Russian Navy in 2015. The ship was launched on 15 October 2013. The ship began its first sea trials on 5 March 2014.
Savings in construction costs were anticipated, due to the use of commercial off the shelf (COTS) parts, rather than requiring every system to be designed to military standards.
The Russian acquisition of French Mistral-class amphibious assault ships is considered to be the largest defense deal between Russia and the West since World War II.
The 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine triggered rising international criticism. France was under political pressure from other nations to sanction Russia by cancelling or suspending delivery of the two Mistral-class vessels.
On 3 September 2014, French President François Hollande released an announcement that France was suspending the delivery of Vladivostok to Russia due to the ongoing War in Donbass, Ukraine.
By 13 September 2014, a partial ceasefire was in place in Ukraine. This improvement in conditions in Ukraine was sufficient for French authorities to allow Vladivostok to go to sea for her acceptance trials. French Defence Ministry sources said a decision on the delivery of Vladivostok would be taken by mid-November. On 25 November, it was announced that delivery of the two ships was to be postponed indefinitely. Russia threatened legal action over the postponement. In August 2015 the two governments reached agreement on terms for cancelling the contract; France would keep the ships and fully reimburse Russia.
On 7 August 2015, a French diplomatic source confirmed that President Hollande discussed the matter with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi during his visit to Egypt during the inauguration of the New Suez Canal in Ismailia. Subsequently, Egypt and France concluded the deal to acquire the two former Russian Mistral for roughly 950 million euros, including the costs of training Egyptian crews. Speaking on RMC Radio, Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Defence Minister, said that Egypt had already paid the whole price for the helicopter carriers.
On 2 June 2016, DCNS delivered the first of two helicopter carriers acquired by the Arab Republic of Egypt in October 2015, the Landing Helicopter Dock Gamal Abdel Nasser. The flag transfer ceremony took place in the presence of Egyptian and French Navies’ Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Rabie and Admiral Rogel, Hervé Guillou, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DCNS, Laurent Castaing, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of STX France, and senior Egyptian and French officials. Before sailing to Alexandria, the helicopter carrier Gamal Abdel Nasser participated in a joint exercise between the Egyptian and French Navies. On 16 September 2016, DCNS delivered the second of two helicopter carriers, the Landing Helicopter Dock Anwar El Sadat which also participated in a joint exercise with the French Navy before arriving at its home port of Alexandria.
In June 2016, Gamal Abdel Nasser took part in military exercises jointly conducted by the Egyptian and French navies in the Mediterranean Sea. The drills were held under the code name Cleopatra 2016 and lasted for several days, they were the first for the ship after being delivered to Egypt earlier that month. The exercises included a number of activities such as both forces planning and managing naval combat missions.