The commander of the maritime task force (MTF) of the United Nations interim force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Rear Admiral Ruggiero Di Biase of Italy has handed over authority to Rear Admiral Jürgen Mannhardt of Germany.

UNIFIL-MTF was created to help the government of Lebanon to restore the effective authority of the Lebanese Navy in securing the territorial waters and to preclude unauthorised entry of arms or related material by sea into Lebanon.

The transfer of command aboard the flagship ITS Scirocco was witnessed by senior Lebanese Armed Forces officers including UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano and diplomatic representatives from countries contributing troops to UNIFIL.

“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.

The Lebanese Navy is now voluntarily participating in the surveillance and maritime interdiction operations of UNIFIL MTF to adopt the operational capabilities for complete and independent control of Lebanese Territorial Waters.