Taranto (Italy), 1st October 2022
On the 1st of October, Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI held the ceremony for the change of Force Commander on board of the new flagship HS Aegean, chaired by the Operation Commander Rear Admiral Stefano Turchetto.
Commodore Stylianos Dimopoulos of the Hellenic Navy has taken over the Command Authority of the European Naval Force operating in the Central Mediterranean from the Italian Rear Admiral Fabrizio Rutteri. The Force Commander has tactical control of ships, aircraft and logistic facilities in the area of operations. On the same day, the Italian Ship ITS Libeccio was replaced by the Hellenic Ship HS Aegean as flagship of the Naval Force.
Rear Admiral Tuchetto expressed appreciation and gratitude to Rear Admiral Rutteri for his remarkable results obtained in leading the Force at the sea, and expressed satisfaction in assigning IRINI’s Command Authority to Commander Dimopoulos, who has previously served as IRINI’s Chief of Staff from April to September 2022.
“What we are doing here is an important contribution to the international endeavour in bringing peace and stability in Libya. Be proud of it! (…) The Mediterranean basin continues to be an area of persistent instability and of confrontation for several local and international players and, at the same time, a strategic area for the international trades. IRINI has proven, as the only international operating actor, its ability to enable the implementation of the UN arms embargo on Libya, in an impartial and balanced way in the current complex situation.“, Admiral Turchetto said.
Background and implementation
Commodore Dimopoulos becomes the Force Commander after being appointed by the EU Political and Security Committee. He already worked with the Operation Commander having served in the last six months as Chief of his Staff in the IRINI Operation Headquarters (OHQ) in Rome. The Flagships, the positions of IRINI Force Commander and the position of Chief of Staff in the OHQ are assigned on a six-monthly rotation between Italy and Greece.
Operation IRINI was launched on 31st March 2020, following the previous Operation SOPHIA. It represents an important EU contribution to the International Community’s efforts for security and peace in Libya. The EU is the only international actor contributing to the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions on the arms embargo on Libya in the Mediterranean Sea. The Operation implements other tasks, including gathering information on illicit oil exports from Libya and on human smuggling activities taking place in the area.
The Operation counts on the active participation of 24 Member States, providing vessels, aircraft and personnel. There are currently three Frigates, four aircraft and almost 600 people directly assigned to IRINI while other naval and air units are deployed in support of the operation on a non-continuous base.
In two and half years of activity, Operation IRINI has effectively implemented its mandate with balance and impartiality. It has investigated more than 7,298 ships, conducted almost 385 visits (so-called Friendly Approaches) onboard merchant vessels and 24 inspections. In July, EUNAVFOR MED IRINI inspected at sea a suspected cargo ship, discovering more than one hundred armored vehicles modified for military use and thus assessed in violation of the UN arms embargo on Libya. In accordance with UNSCR 2292 (2016), Operation IRINI seized all those vehicles. The Operation regularly monitors 16 Libyan ports and 25 airports and landing strips. IRINI has shared 40 special reports with the United Nations Panel of Experts on Libya.
Commodore Stylianos A. Dimopoulos HN was born in Athens(Greece) in 1965. He joined the Hellenic Naval Academy in 1984 and graduated in 1988. He assembled broad experience in his previous assignments. In particular, he served as Deputy Director of Weapons and Communications as well as Director of Operations in Hellenic Submarine Command (2005-2006), Director of Studies in the Submarine School (2006) and Commander of both the Hellenic Submarine Squadrons (2004, 2006). Additionally, he served as Greece’s Deputy Military Representative to the NATO Military Committee in Brussels from August 2018 till August 2020.In August 2020 he assumed the duties of COS at the Hellenic Fleet HQ. From March 2021 he served as Commandant of the Aegean Naval Command before becoming Chief of Staff of the EUNAVFORMED Operation IRINI Operation Head-Quarters in Rome in March 2022.
Rear Admiral Fabrizio Rutteri, was born in Trieste (Italy) in 1969. He joined the Naval Academy in Livorno in 1988 and graduated in 1992. He is an experienced Navy Officer. In particular, he served as Commander of the Italian Frigate ITS GRECALE (2010-2011) and of ITS DURAND DE LA PENNE (2016-2017) A noteworthy constituent of his career is his participation to NATO Operation “Sharp Guard”, NATO High Readiness Force-Maritime and Italian maritime security operation off the coasts of Libya “Mare Sicuro” (today Mediterraneo Sicuro) along with many other assignments in Italy and abroad in multinational organizations.