The return of Independência, UNIFIL flagship, to Beirut Port
Independência, the flagship of UNIFIL's 6-vessel Maritime Task Force (MTF) fleet, docked in Beirut on 21 August for the first time since the two devastating blasts levelled the port on 4 August.
With about 200 peacekeepers on board, the ship safely navigated what became a field of debris in and around the Beirut port and docked in Lebanon’s capital.
Sailing from Brazil, Independência and her crew are tasked with patrolling, in coordination with the Lebanese Navy, some 5,000 nautical square miles or 17,171 square kilometers of Lebanese waters. Its frigate is in charge of commanding all of the Mission’s maritime operations in Lebanon.
While giving an update about the condition of UNIFIL's Corvette from Bangladesh “BNS BIJOY”, MTF Commander Rear Admiral Sérgio Salgueirinho said that the ship was “very much damaged” by the blasts in Beirut port, but the crew was able to fix many things in the last weeks.
“As part of an agreement between the Bangladesh Navy and the Turkish Government, BIJOY was towed to a port in Turkey for repair and maintenance last week and it will be back to Beirut once fully repaired," he said.
When asked about the morale of the Bangladesh peacekeepers, he praised their commitment and sense of good spirit within these challenging times.
"Our Bangladesh peacekeepers are very strong and brave. I am very impressed with their good spirit and sense of commitment," he added. "They practically survived a very terrible blast, and despite what they've been through, they are very motivated and well determined to get back to the sea."
Assistance to LAF Navy
"Lebanese authorities can count on MTF and all our ships to provide assistance to all the efforts needed, as well as with the other tasks of the mandate," he continued.
When not patrolling within the maritime area of operation, they usually dock in Beirut port and train with the Lebanese Navy.
“The Independência is back in Beirut Harbour and we had a very safe entrance with all the support given by the port authorities" said UNIFIL Brazilian Flagship Commanding Officer, Captain André Felipe Rosa Françade Carvalho.
“We are back here in our port to operate and give the logistic support needed. After a few days, we will go back to the sea and start patrolling again in our maritime area of operations.” He concluded.
Since its deployment in 2006, UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force (MTF) has been tasked with raising the capabilities of the Lebanese Navy.
The MTF supports the Lebanese Navy in monitoring its territorial waters, securing the Lebanese coastline, and preventing the unauthorized entry of arms or related materiel by the sea into Lebanon.
Since 2016, the Independência frigate has served for a third time as UNIFIL flagship.
For more information about the MTF, please visit UNIFIL Maritime Task Force page.