Picard Naval Exercises off Lebanon’s Coast
UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force (MTF) conducted the Picard naval exercises off the coast of Lebanon on 28 July 2022, to enhance the coordination between its multi-national vessels.
Picard is the acronym for Periodic Capability and Readiness Days and invokes complex joint exercises that involve all ships of UNIFIL’s MTF. Ships and crews change regularly within the MTF making these joint exercises crucial in maintaining peak operability, cohesion, and readiness within the maritime area of operations. This is the 6th Picard exercise scheduled to be repeated every two to three months.
UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force is currently five vessels strong and consists of the Greek frigate Adrias, Turkish corvette Heybeliada, German corvette Erfurt, Bangladeshi corvette Sangram and the Indonesian corvette Sultan Iskandar Muda, which also carries the task force’s naval helicopter. The MTF has been under the command of the German navy since January of 2021.
Commanding and coordinating five war ships from five different countries is no small feat, particularly when conducting complex maneuvers between all ships while maintaining exact speed and distances from vessel to vessel. The joint exercises included coordinated live firing, a ship-to-ship mail bag maneuver and a multifaceted inter-vessel communications drill. Concurrently the MTF’s Indonesian naval helicopter practiced the transport of crew and cargo from ship to ship.
The full day exercise concluded successfully as validated by Rear Admiral Andreas Mügge of the German Navy: “I have been able to reassure myself of the efficiency and operational capability of our task force. Certainly, there is some room, here and there, for refinements. However, we should not forget that we are already operating at a very good level here.”
Established in October 2006 at the request of the Government of Lebanon, UNIFIL MTF supports the LAF Navy in monitoring its territorial waters, securing the Lebanese coastline, and preventing the unauthorized entry of arms by sea into Lebanon.
The role of UNIFIL is to hail ships that are entering Lebanese waters and report them to the Lebanese Navy.