BEIRUT: Rear Admiral Luiz Henrique Caroli handed over command of UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force Saturday to Rear Admiral Wagner Lopes de Moraes Zamith on board Brazilian Flagship Frigate “UNIAO” in the presence of Lebanese Army officials.
Among those attending the handover ceremony between the two Brazilian nationals at Beirut port were U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon commander Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra, Lebanese Navy commander Rear Admiral Nazih Baroudi and representatives of UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army.
During the ceremony, Serra, an Italian who assumed command of UNIFIL on Jan. 28, said the international body’s Maritime Task Force has played a vital role in warding off attempts at illegal arms trafficking and has had a positive effect on the security of seabound merchant traffic.
“The Lebanese Navy has demonstrated, time and again, its professionalism and outstanding commitment toward securing Lebanese waters,” Serra was quoted by UNIFIL’s press office as saying.
The UNIFIL Maritime Task Force was deployed at the request of the Lebanese government in 2006 to assist the Lebanese Navy in preventing the smuggling of arms and other items into Lebanon.
The force has been working closely with the Lebanese Navy on training programs and according to UNIFIL has hailed around 42,900 ships and referred nearly 1,750 vessels to the Lebanese authorities for further inspection.
Zamith, the new commander of the force, said he was looking forward to his task. “I reiterate my commitment to maintaining the high-level relationship between the Maritime Task Force and the Lebanese Navy. We shall continuously strive to strengthen our ties of friendship and cooperation,” he said.
A total of 15 countries have contributed to the force since its formation: Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.