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Italian helicopter carrier becomes flagship of EU’s Libya mission

ITS San Giorgo
ITS San Giorgo. Photo: EUNAVFOR

Italian Navy amphibious transport dock ship ITS San Giorgio has become the flagship of EU’s operation Irini, a mission designed to enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya.

The 35-year-old helicopter carrier will act as a floating base for the force commander, Italian Rear Admiral Ettore Socci, to command the naval and air assets deployed in the area of operation.

ITS San Giorgio joins the Greek frigate Spetsai and the aircraft from France, German, Greece, Luxembourg and Poland already active in the area of operation. The flagship also provides a role 1 medical facility on board.

ITS San Giorgio is fitted with an EH 101 helicopter and embarks a San Marco Navy Brigade team able to carry out boardings up to “non-compliant”.

Italy is also providing the operation with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in direct support as well as Augusta, Pantelleria and Sigonella’s military logistic and operational bases.

A P72 maritime patrol aircraft (MPRA), an early warning aircraft and a submarine in associated support will be available occasionally.

In total, about 20 countries of the European Union are participating, with staff or assets, in Operation Irini, which also counts on the support of satellite images provided by the European Union Satellite Centre.

Officially launched in May this year, operation Irini will help enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya, in addition to helping monitor and gather information on illicit exports from Libya of petroleum, crude oil and refined petroleum products.

From the middle of October, the force commander as well as the flagship will be provided by Greece.