On April 25, the Lebanese Armed Forces Navy (LAF-Navy) demonstrated their full range of capabilities in Maritime Interdiction Operations with support from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Maritime Task Force (MTF). The event was attended by the LAF-Navy Commander Colonel Haitham Dinnawi, UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander General Aroldo Lazaro, and MTF Commander Rear Admiral Michael Busse.
The demonstration began with a simulated MTF vessel approaching Lebanese territorial waters as the vessel of interest. LAF-Navy’s Maritime Interdiction Command (MIO), from its Headquarters in Beirut port, hailed the ship and determined that a boarding and inspection was necessary. The MIO Command dispatched LAF-Navy and LAF-Air Force units to identify and intercept the vessel at sea. Two boarding teams approached the vessel, one by way of sea, the other rappelling from the Air Force helicopter onto the deck of the ship. Both units boarded and secured the ship, and successfully conducted an inspection.
The event showcased the LAF-Navy's overall readiness and the synergy and interoperability between the LAF-Navy and LAF-Air Force. The distinguished visitors were provided with live impressions of the LAF-Navy's capabilities, which include hailing, boarding and inspection of vessels.
Since MTF initiated the assessment and evaluation period in December 2022, the LAF-Navy has made significant advancements in commanding Maritime Interdiction Operations with MTF support at sea. Currently LAF-Navy has the responsibility of the MIO command over the middle and northern thirds of its territorial waters. It is projected that within the next few months MIO responsibility for the southern third will be handed over to LAF-Navy as well.
UNIFIL MTF remains committed to supporting Lebanon's efforts to build their naval capacity and perform their maritime security duties. LAF Navy and Lebanese authorities are solely responsible for any necessary vessel boardings or inspections, as UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force is not mandated to do so.
Part of UNIFIL's mandate is to support Lebanon in building its naval capacity to effectively patrol its sovereign waters and perform its maritime security duties independently and autonomously. The LAF-Navy's demonstration of their capabilities is a significant step towards achieving this goal.