UNIFIL Maritime Task Force trains Lebanese Navy

Lebanese Navy about to engage in the joint exercise with the UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force

A German UNIFIL-MTF officer and Lebanese Navy Captain discussing the joint exercise

UNIFIL-MTF officer on deck of Lebanese Navy vessel during the joint exercise between MTF and Lebanese Navy

Lebanese Navy sailors performing the exercise in conjunction with a UNIFIL Maritime Task Force vessel

Lebanese Navy sailor with UNIFIL MTF vessel passing in background

UNIFIL-MTF German sailors saluting the Lebanese Navy vessel

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16 Jan 2013

UNIFIL Maritime Task Force trains Lebanese Navy

Deployed since October 2006, UNIFIL's maritime task force supports the Lebanese Navy in monitoring its territorial waters, securing the Lebanese coastline and preventing the unauthorized entry of arms or related material by sea into Lebanon.

This support manifests itself also through countless joint exercises conducted by UNIFIL's Maritime Task Force in order to enhance the capabilities of the Lebanese navy.

"Replenishment at sea" was the name of the MTF-LAF Navy joint exercise conducted at the Beirut Naval Base, as part of ongoing joint exercises that run for 24 hrs every 2 weeks, and where the UNIFIL MTF is involved for four hour time slots each.

Three ships took part in the fourhour exercise; 2 Lebanese ships Damour and Sour in addition to the Federal German Ship Hermelin.

Commander Junior Rene Halfman from the German Navy explained that this training aims to boost the level of ambition and reinforces the Lebanese navy to gain full sovereignty over the Lebanese territorial waters.

He added in an interview: "To reach the full sovereignty over the Lebanese territorial waters the Lebanese Navy has to be able to control the ships, regardless the kind of ship it may get in contact with."

The German FGS Hermelin joined the exercise as a training partner where it will exchange a rope and perform a "mail back transfer". In other words, the Lebanese ships sailing at sea will meet with the FGS Hermelin and exchange mail, equipments, food, or any other commodity by way of a rope.

"It is a really difficult exercise where the officers should be able to station their ships in parallel positions. It is a good exercise of seamanship" said Commander Halfman.

In this case, the Damour ship exchanged with FGS Hermelin a bag that included some food.

Captain Jiscard Saad, Captain of the ship Damour, explained that this exercise is extremely useful where the officers get a clear understanding of safe manoeuvring utilizing the ship's engines and steering system.

"This exercise teaches us to understand the effects of wind, current, and interaction on the behaviour of the ship" said Capt Saad.

He added: "these kinds of exercises are effective in all means since they impart new skills, ideas, knowledge, and concepts. It also meets with the goals set by the LAF Navy headquarters that focus on gaining additional skills through more exercises and strengthening our involvement with a variety of professional navies in UNIFIL's Maritime Task Force."

This exercise is considered the first step in a long way to go. "The ships sailed today 10 metres apart. The next step will be for us to witness the ships sail alongside at sea while driving. And that is one of the most difficult manoeuvres you can ever have at seamanship" said Commander Halfman.

The Lebanese navy usually conducts other kind of exercises with the MTF that involve search and rescue, tactical manoeuvre, boarding exercise anddamage control. At other times they receive technical support for the ships from MTF mobile teams and assistance in maintaining their units.

"The level of professionalism in the Lebanese Navy is quiet high at this stage, yet there is still a lot of seamanship knowledge for us to share with them, and that is an aim we have set to reach" concluded Commander Halfman.

A total of 15 countries have contributed to the MTF: Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.

Article: Ghinwa El Deek
Photos: Pascual Gorriz Marcos
Video Editor: Suzane Badereddine
Video Camera Operator: Mohamad Hamze
Graphics: Zeina Ezzeddine