UNIFIL Maritime Task Force joint exercise, 14 July 2009
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Maritime Task Force (MTF) conducted yesterday a Maritime Joint Exercise off the coast of Lebanon in close cooperation with the Lebanese Navy. The aim of this Joint Exercise was to improve cooperation and coordination between different maritime operations, MTF and LAF.
The exercise involved UNIFIL MTF naval units from Italy, the Scirocco, the Dachs and Rhein from Germany while the Lebanese Naval Group was composed of three naval units: Damour, Sour and Tabarja.
Present at the exercise were UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano, UNIFIL MTF Commander Rear Admiral Ruggiero di Biase, LAF Navy Commander Rear Admiral Ali el Mouallem, Rear Admiral LAF Navy Vice-Commander Michel al Hashem, Brigadier General Marwan Hitti, Brigadier General Riad Chaya and Brigadier General Walid Salman.
UNIFIL’s Force Commander, Major-General Graziano said, “The aim of this exercise is to improve cooperation and establish coordination mechanisms between the different naval forces involved.” General Graziano added “The Lebanese Navy’s participation in this exercise is of paramount importance in light of the future hand-over of the full responsibility of their territorial water”.
Rear Admiral Di Biase, Commander of the MTF for his part said “This event represents an occasion to further consolidate cooperation at sea, in the perspective of Lebanese Navy directly participating in the Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO) and an opportunity to enhance the capability to work together, practicing common Standard Operating Procedures and reciprocal support at sea.”
Since the start of its operations on 15 October 2006, MTF has hailed more than 24,400 ships and referred more than 295 suspicious vessels to the Lebanese authorities for further inspection.
So far 13 countries have contributed naval units to the MTF: Belgium , Bulgaria , Denmark , France , Germany , Greece , Indonesia , Italy , the Netherlands , Norway , Spain , Sweden and Turkey .
UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force now comprises of naval units from Germany (3 ships), Greece (1 ship), Indonesia (1 ship), Italy (1 ship) and Turkey (1 ship).