New UNIFIL Maritime Task Force Admiral takes command, 19 February 2013

19 Feb 2013

New UNIFIL Maritime Task Force Admiral takes command, 19 February 2013

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Maritime Task Force (MTF) today underwent a transfer of command at a ceremony aboard a ship in Beirut Harbour presided by UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Paolo Serra.

UNIFIL outgoing Rear Admiral Wagner Lopes de Moraes Zamith (Brazil) handed over the command to Rear Admiral Joese De Andrade Bandeira Leandro of Brazil aboard the Frigate Conrigate Constitucao (Brazil) in the presence of representatives of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) as well as diplomats and officers from UNIFIL Troop Contributing Countries.

Major-General Paolo Serra thanked Brazil for its continued commitment to the leadership of the Maritime Task Force and all the troop contributing countries for their support to the MTF while praising the work of the MTF and the LAF-Navy.

"Admiral Zamith significantly enhanced the activity at sea, with 1,272 vesseles referred to the LAF-Navy for inspections during the period of his tenure" UNIFIL Force Commander said, "this represents an increase by almost 30 percent from the previous period, underlining the important role of the maritime task force at this time of regional instability".

Commenting on the excellent cooperation between UNIFIL and LAF-Navy, the Force Commander praised the LAF-Navy for demonstrating, time and again, its professionalism and outstanding commitment towards securing Lebanese waters. 'The continued efforts of the MTF is very important in this regard to seize the momentum and build on the achievements made thus far", he said.

A native of Santa Catarina, Rear Admiral Leandro joined the Brazilian Navy in 1976. He studied at the Brazilian Navy Academy and graduated in 1982. He was appointed as Commander of the Naval High School in March 2010 and rose through the ranks to Rear Admiral in November 2011 and was assigned to be the Sub Chief of the Organisation and Maritime issues of the Naval Operations Command. Throughout his career he was awarded a number of Brazilian military medals.

UNIFIL-MTF, the first ever maritime deployment in a UN Peacekeeping Mission, is deployed at the request of the Lebanese Government to assist the Lebanese Navy to help prevent the unauthorized entry of arms or related materiel by sea into Lebanon. MTF has been working jointly with the Lebanese Navy to that end.

The MTF performs a dual mandate of carrying out maritime interdiction operations and providing training to the Lebanese Navy.

Since the start of its operations in October 2006 the MTF has hailed nearly 49,800 ships, and a total of 3,088 ships were inspected by the Lebanese Authorities.

UNIFIL-MTF currently comprises naval units from Bangladesh (2 ships), Germany (2 ships), Greece (1 ship), Brazil (1 ship) and Turkey (1 ship).