Italian Admiral at the helm of EU Naval Force off Libyan Coast

ROMA (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Italian Rear Admiral Armando Simi, appointed by the EU Political and Security Committee, assumed command of Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI, tasked with implementing the UN arms embargo on Libya.
The Operation stated that Simi took over command from Rear Admiral Konstantinos Bakalakos of the Greek Navy, who had served as Force Commander for the past six months.
Rear Admiral Stefano Turchetto, the Operation Commander, chaired the ceremony aboard the Greek frigate HS ELLI at the Taranto Naval Base.
The EU Task Force comprises Air Patrol and Naval Units contributed by 23 EU Member States, operating in international waters between Europe and Libya. Additionally, it utilises operational bases and logistic support facilities in Italy and Greece.
The Force Commander, with a multinational staff of around 20, exercises command from the Flagship, reporting to the Operation Commander in Rome at the EU Naval Force in Mediterranean Operation IRINI Headquarters.
Rear Admiral Armando Simi will continue the task forcès mission aboard the Italian Offshore Patrol Vessel, ITS Paolo Thaon de Revel, the new Operation IRINI Flagship, maintaining the tradition of excellent EU Commanders.
IRINI reported 10 suspicious flights to Libya in March. In a statement, Operation IRINI noted that it conducted 3 visits aboard ships suspected of violating the arms export ban and communicated with 352 other merchant vessels via radio calls during the same month.
Since its inception, IRINI has inspected 26 suspect vessels and seized contraband cargos in violation of the arms embargo, redirecting them to EU Member State ports.
The implementation of the UN arms embargo on Libya was not the only task wisely and effectively carried out by Rear Admiral Konstantinos Bakalakos. As part of a wider European Integrated approach towards the African Country and North Africa Region, IRINI tasks include also the monitoring of several other illegal activities, namely humans smuggling and oil trafficking, in the international waters off the Libyan Coast, also threatening stability in the region and security in the Mediterranean.
However, challenges persist with Turkey is the only country that has refused to allow suspected ships to be boarded and inspected since the establishment of Operation IRINI three years ago.

– Foto: Irini –

Source: medNews