The European Union’s naval operation in the Mediterranean, Operation ‘IRINI’, is meant to monitor and enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya.
Operations commenced on May 4, when French naval vessel ‘Jean Bart’ and a maritime patrol aircraft from Luxembourg arrived into the area.
A statement issued by Operation IRINI said that ‘Jean Bart’, a Cassard Class frigate carrying pennant number D615, would be a valuable asset as it monitors communication at sea as well as air traffic.
“This double effort is essential for the implementation of the operation’s mandate in compliance with the Berlin Conference, ensuring impartiality and conflict sensitivity”, the statement added.
Before the official launch of the Operation, EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell said that “at the Berlin Conference [international] leaders agreed to work toward a sustainable solution to the crisis in Libya. The effective enforcement of the UN arms embargo will help in achieving a sustainable ceasefire and advance to a political agreement”.
The Operational Commander of IRINI is Admiral Fabio Agostini, who claimed that initial assets had been successfully deployed with more nations scheduled to join and contribute assets in the coming weeks and months.
The Operation currently has three vessels, contributed by France, Greece, and Italy.
It also has a Maltese boarding team and three patrol aircraft from Germany, Luxembourg, and Poland with a similar number of vessels and aircraft to support.
The European Satellite Center (SatCen) will provide satellite imagery support for the mission, with other special assets, such as submarines, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and airborne early warning aircraft.
These will be provided by the Member States on an occasional basis.
Admiral Agostini issued guidelines for participating countries to reduce the risk of COVID-19 at its Rome headquarters, as well as onboard the ships and aircraft. Aircraft must be declared “COVID-19 free” before inclusion in Operation ‘IRINI’.