Over the past weekend, Operation IRINI conducted a “Focus Operation” in the Central Mediterranean area involving all its assets deployed in the Area of Operation. At dawn on last Friday, this operation, under the guidance of Rear Admiral Fabrizio Rutteri, Irini’s Force Commander, started.
Three ships – the Flagship ITS GRECALE belonging to the Italian Navy, HS THEMISTOKLES from Hellenic Navy and the FS COMMANDANT BLAISON from French Navy – were engaged in the Operation and conducted the last EUNAVFOR MED IRINI Focus Operation.
Under the operative umbrella, IRINI also deployed six directly assigned patrol aircrafts (from France, Greece, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg and Poland) with other vessels and aircraft in associated support. In addition, as always, the European Satellite Centre (SatCen) provided satellite imagery support.
Focus Operation tactics concentrate available assets in time and space to more effectively fulfill assigned tasks, aiming at deterring illegal trafficking, monitoring the merchant traffic in the area of operation, detecting and locating possible UN Arms Embargo breakers, intercepting them and performing boardings, inspecting their cargo in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR 2292), but the aim is also to engage with the maritime community through friendly visit onboard merchant vessels in order to improve multidomain shared awareness.
The concentration of European Union assets during this period was also a great opportunity to conduct advanced exercises and force integration training in order to increase European Navies interoperability.
In this context, it is also worth to mention that the Security Council recently decided to renew the resolution authorizing IRINI’s warship to inspect vessels on the high seas off Libya’s coast when they are believed to be in violation of the arms embargo imposed on that country. This one year renewal will pave the way for the conduct of a sound strategic review of the Operation’s mandate, with the possible implementation of a broader range of tasks related to Maritime Security in the Mediterranean Sea.