The deployment of the survey vessel is part of a wider response effort from the British military being made available by the UK Government, along with a package of civilian support including £5m worth of aid.

HMS Enterprise will assess the damage done to the port by the massive explosion and help it return to normal operations as soon as possible. The majority of Lebanon’s imports come in through the port of Beirut and it is vital to its economic stability.

HMS Enterprise is currently docked at Limassol, Cyprus, while Lebanese and UK authorities work out when will be best for the deployment of the ship. Deployment of the ship was agreed at the request of the Lebanese government.

Commenting on the deployment, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “At the request of the Lebanese Government I have authorised the sending of HMS Enterprise to help survey the Port of Beirut, assessing the damage and supporting Lebanon rebuild this vital piece of national infrastructure.

“We have a close and enduring friendship with the Lebanese people, our military is ready to support them in their time of need.”

The UK Armed Forces have sent a team to the UK Embassy in Beirut to help identify further areas of support and to coordinate UK aid. The UK has also offered “tailored medical support, military air transport assistance and engineering and communications capabilities.”

What is HMS Enterprise?

Image: Royal Navy / Crown Copyright.

HMS Enterprise is an Echo-class multi-role survey vessel – hydrographic oceanographic (SVHO). Enterprise is used to map the ocean floor but can also be used as a base for the Royal Navy’s minehunting operations.

Enterprise is one of two Echo-class ships and entered into service in 2003, where she was first deployed to the Mediterranean. In 2007, Enterprise was deployed to West Africa, and later the Persian Gulf where the ship operated off the coast of Iraq.

HMS Enterprise carries a Survey Motor Boat (SMB), named Spitfire, which can be used to enter the damaged port and survey the undersea environment. While Enterprise awaits orders to move to Lebanon the SMB is being calibrated and prepared for use.

HMS Enterprise carries a crew of 48 highly trained sailors, who’s surveys of the port area will be vital in rebuilding the port.