UNIFIL Maritime Task Force transfer of authority, 31 August 2009
Beirut, Lebanon - The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Maritime Task Force (MTF) today underwent a transfer of command from Rear Admiral Ruggiero Di Biase of Italy to Rear Admiral Jürgen Mannhardt of Germany.
The hand-over ceremony aboard the flagship ITS Scirocco was attended among others by UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano, Commander in Chief of the Italian fleet Vice-Admiral Luigi Binelli Mantelli, as well as senior Lebanese Armed Forces officers and diplomatic representatives from countries contributing troops to UNIFIL.
Major-General Graziano highlighted the constructive relationship between UNIFIL-MTF and the Lebanese Navy that has developed from joint naval exercises to the conduct of combined maritime interdiction operations. He attributed this to the "professionalism and outstanding commitment" of the Lebanese navy.
UNIFIL-MTF has been deployed at 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.
"Through its monitoring activities, the MTF has not only been playing a critical deterrence role, warding off all attempts at illegal arms trafficking; it has also contributed to a safe environment for commercial ships traveling to and from Lebanon," Major-General Graziano said.
Since the start of its operations on 15 October 2006, MTF has hailed around 27,000 ships and referred more than 370 suspicious vessels to the Lebanese authorities for further inspection.
Rear Admiral Di Biase, in his farewell speech, said: "The LAF Navy is now taking direct part in the Surveillance and Maritime Interdiction Operations of UNIFIL MTF. This development constitutes a positive step forward for the Lebanese Navy to acquire the operational capabilities to assume the full and independent control of Lebanese Territorial Waters."
The MTF is the first Naval Force to be part of a UN peacekeeping mission.
A total of 13 countries have contributed naval units to the MTF: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.
Following today's command changeover, UNIFIL's Maritime Task Force will now comprise of naval units from Germany (4 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)
Fax: +961 1 827 016
View the UNIFIL Website: