UNIFIL Maritime Task Force transfer of authority, 30 May 2009
Beirut , Lebanon – The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Maritime Task Force (MTF) today underwent a transfer of command from Rear Admiral Jean-Thierry Pynoo of Belgium to Rear Admiral Ruggiero Di Biase of Italy .
The hand-over ceremony aboard the flagship BNS Leopold I was attended among others by UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano, Commander in Chief of the Italian fleet Vice-Admiral Luigi Binelli Mantelli, Vice-Admiral Jean-Paul Robyns Commander of the Belgian naval component and senior Lebanese Armed Forces officers and diplomatic representatives from countries contributing troops to UNIFIL.
The MTF has been deployed on the request of the Lebanese Government to assist the Lebanese Navy in securing the territorial waters and to help prevent the unauthorized entry of arms or related material by sea into Lebanon .
UNIFIL' Force Commander, Major-General Graziano praised "the constructive relationship between the MTF and Lebanese Navy" stating, "I applaud this relationship and the spirit of effective cooperation to which it has led, and are vital to the successful implementation of our mandate and the relevant provisions of Security Council resolution 1701."
It is the first time that a Naval Force is part of a UN peacekeeping mission.
Since the start of its operations on 15 October 2006 , MTF has hailed around 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 .
Rear Admiral Di Biase noted in his address "I am deeply honoured to come back to UNIFIL's MTF to serve the cause of peace and I look forward to continuing the work commenced together with the Lebanese Navy."
Following today's changeover, UNIFIL's Maritime Task Force will now comprise of naval units from Germany (3 ships), Greece (1 ship), Indonesia (1 ship), Italy (1 ship) and Turkey (1 ship).
For further information, please contact Yasmina Bouziane UNIFIL Spokesperson:
Tel.: +961 1 827 068 (office); +961 71 119 181 (cell)