Italy takes over command of UNIFIL Maritime Task Force, 30 November 2009

30 Nov 2009

Italy takes over command of UNIFIL Maritime Task Force, 30 November 2009

Beirut, Lebanon - The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Maritime Task Force (MTF) today underwent a transfer of command from Germany to Italy. In a ceremony aboard German flagship FGS Schleswig-Holstein at Beirut Harbour, Rear Admiral Paolo Sandalli of Italy assumed command for the next six months from Germany's Rear Admiral Jürgen Mannhardt.

The first Naval Force to be part of a UN peacekeeping mission, UNIFIL-MTF has been deployed at the request of the Lebanese Government to assist the Lebanese Navy in securing the territorial waters and to help prevent the unauthorized entry of arms or related material by sea into Lebanon. In addition, the MTF has been working jointly with the Lebanese Navy to strengthen the latter's capabilities to secure its maritime borders and assume effective security control over Lebanese territorial waters.

UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano paid special tribute to Germany for it competent leadership of MTF over the past months. He praised the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Navy's performance.

"The combined employment of LAF-Navy patrol craft and coastal radar in interdiction operations, the Navy's involvement in hailing merchant vessels and in the boarding and inspection of suspicious vessels at sea, including at night, have significantly contributed to securing Lebanese maritime borders," Major-General Graziano said.

Since the start of its operations on 15 October 2006, MTF has hailed around 28,000 ships and referred nearly 400 suspicious vessels to the Lebanese authorities for further inspections.

The hand-over ceremony was attended, among others, by Parliamentary State Secretary for the German Minister of Defence Thomas Kossendey, Major-General Tommaso Ferro, Commander of Italian Joint Operational Headquarters, Rear Admiral Manfred Hartmann, Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr Operational Command, senior LAF officers and diplomatic representatives from countries contributing troops to UNIFIL.

Following today's command changeover, UNIFIL-MTF will now comprise naval units from Germany (3 ships), Greece (1 ship), Italy (1 ship) and Turkey (1 ship).

For further information, please contact:
Andrea Tenenti, Deputy Spokesperson:
Tel.: +961 1 827 068; +961 70910064 (cell) Fax: +961 1 827 016
View the UNIFIL website: