UNIFIL Maritime Task Force transfer of authority on 1 March 2009

1 Mar 2009

UNIFIL Maritime Task Force transfer of authority on 1 March 2009

Beirut, Lebanon – The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today transferred command of its Maritime Task Force (MTF) to Belgium at the end of the scheduled one-year term of the European Maritime Force (EUROMARFOR) at the helm of the MTF.

UNIFIL Force Commander reviews the troops during the MTF Transfer of Authority on 01 March 2009 (AFP photo Joseph Barrack).

The handover ceremony was held aboard the flagship FS De Grasse at the International Port of Beirut in the presence of UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano, Commander EUROMARFOR Vice Admiral Giuseppe Lertora, senior officers of the Lebanese Armed Forces and other dignitaries.

To mark the handover, outgoing MTF Commander Rear Admiral Jean-Louis Kerignard of France presented a United Nations Flag to Rear Admiral Jean-Thierry Pynoo from Belgium, who is now in charge of UNIFIL's maritime operations.
Addressing the ceremony Major-General Graziano noted the progressive enhancement of operational cooperation between the MTF and the Lebanese Navy.
"In the process, UNIFIL's MTF and the Lebanese Navy have developed a constructive, professional relationship which is vital to the successful implementation of our mandate," he added.
UNIFIL MTF is the first Naval Task Force that has ever taken part in a United Nations peacekeeping mission. The deployment of MTF in October 2006, upon the request of the Lebanese Government, was a landmark move that prompted Israel to lift its naval blockade of Lebanon.

UNIFIL Force Commander with incoming and outgoing MTF admirals during the MTF Transfer of Authority 1 March 2009.
The MTF has since been assisting the Lebanese Navy in securing the country's 200 kilometres of coastline in order to help in preventing the unauthorized entry of arms or related material by sea into Lebanon.
So far 12 countries have contributed naval units to the MTF: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. The incoming flagship BNS Leopold I previously served as part of the MTF during August-December 2008.
Following today's changeover, UNIFIL's Maritime Task Force will consist of the following vessels:
Belgium (1 ship), Germany (3 ships), Greece (1 ship), Italy (1 ship), Turkey (1 ship). One Indonesian naval vessel will join the MTF on 15 April 2009.
Since the start of its operations, the MTF has hailed more than 22,000 ships and referred 240 suspicious vessels to the Lebanese authorities for further inspection.
For further information, please contact the following at the UNIFIL Public Information Office:
Spokesperson Yasmina Bouziane
Tel.: +961 1 827 037 (office); +961 7092 6950 (cell)
Fax: +961 1 827 016
View the UNIFIL website: