Operation IRINI: change of commander of the Forces at Sea


This afternoon aboard the amphibious ship San Giusto of the Italian Navy, moored at the Angioino pier in the port of Naples, the handover ceremony between the tactical commanders of the forces at sea of ​​the "EU Naval Force Mediterranean IRINI" Operation took place.

During the ceremony, presided over by the commander of the IRINI operation, division admiral Stefano Turchetto, the Italian rear admiral Valentino Rinaldi, after six months, handed over tactical command to Commodore Kostantinos Bakalakos, of the Greek Navy.

The tactical commander of the Forces at Sea has under his control all the air and naval assets in the area of ​​operations, which operate in the Central Mediterranean, and the operational and logistical structures on land of the IRINI operation. Supported by a multinational staff, Commodore Bakalakos who comes from the Operation Headquarters (OHQ) of IRINI where for the last six months he has held the position of Chief of Staff of the operation, will operate from board the frigate Aegean of the Greek Navy.

The Italian contribution to the naval force will continue with the use of the frigate Grecale.

The tactical commander of the forces at sea and the chief of staff of the headquarters in Rome are positions assigned on a six-monthly rotation by Italy and Greece and demonstrate the importance attributed to the operation by the two member states in the context of security and safety policy. common defense system (CSDP) of the EU. In particular, Italy continuously guarantees almost half of all IRINI staff.

Background and description of the operation

Operation IRINI, launched on 31 March 2020, represents the European Union's important contribution to the international community's efforts for security and peace in Libya. The EU is the only international actor to actively support the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions in the Mediterranean Sea establishing the arms and related material embargo on Libya.

The secondary tasks assigned to the IRINI operation also include the collection of information in favor of the Security Council, useful for combating illicit oil exports from Libya and human trafficking taking place in the area. IRINI has in fact produced 42 special reports for the United Nations committee of experts on Libya.

The European operation counts on the active participation of 23 Member States which provide ships, aircraft and personnel. Despite a period of international crisis, currently, two naval units, six aircraft and more than 600 people are assigned to the operation, while other ships and aircraft take part in the operation on a non-continuous basis.

In two and a half years of activity, the IRINI operation has effectively operated with balance and impartiality. It intercepted over 11.525 merchant ships in the area of ​​operations, conducted more than 550 non-inspection visits on board with the consent of the commanders, strengthening ties with the international navy operating in the Central Mediterranean and concluded a total of 26 complete inspections on board with the consensus of the flag states. The operation also keeps 16 Libyan ports and 25 airports and landing strips under constant observation.

It is important to remember that following the inspections conducted, almost 150 vehicles transformed for military use were seized on two separate occasions, and therefore sent in violation of the embargo, established following United Nations Resolution 1970 of 2011.