28 Sep 2020

Friendly approaches, how Operation Irini cooperates with merchant vessels

Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI assets patrol the Central Mediterranean Sea since May 4. In this period, 16 visits onboard merchant vessels, called “friendly approaches”, has been executed.

The friendly approach is a consensual visit that can be undertaken without any specific approval by the flag state of the vessel and does not entail any enforcing activity.

These events are significant opportunities to come in contact with the maritime community and to exchange information, greatly improving the maritime awareness and consequently the security in the Mediterranean Sea.

EUNAVFOR MED boarding team goes onboard a merchant vessel upon Master invitation. In a tranquil atmosphere, information is exchanged, small gifts are given whilst cooperation and mutual understanding are strengthened. The Operation headquarters in Rome, which instructs the friendly approach, is continuously informed of the current situation.

During the friendly conversation on the bridge, EUNAVFOR MED boarding team explains Operation’s tasks whilst the Master provides information about the vessels’ trading routine.

In this way Irini assets can gather information on suspicious activities in order to ensure security in the Central Mediterranean Sea and to enforce arms embargo to and from Libya.

The activity does not cause any delay for the merchant vessel involved and COVID-19 measures are strictly observed by both parties during the visit.

After less than an hour, Irini boarding team disembarks and the merchant vessel continues its daily duty.