Home Europe Italian frigate crew on Libyan embargo mission hit by COVID-19 outbreak

Italian frigate crew on Libyan embargo mission hit by COVID-19 outbreak

FREMM frigate ITS Margottini

A third of the crew aboard Italian Navy FREMM frigate ITS Margottini, which is deployed on a Libyan arms embargo mission in the Mediterranean Sea, have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

According to EUNAVFOR MED Irini, the European Union command in charge of the mission, 51 crew members have tested positive for COVID-19 on Margottini, the flagship of the mission.

Of those who tested positive, 47 are crew members of ITS Margottini and four are members of the joint task force embarked aboard the ship.

A repeated test for all personnel on board is being carried out again as a precautionary measure. EUNAVFOR did not say whether the ship would have to dock in a port to manage the outbreak, as the crews of French and US aircraft carriers were forced to do earlier this year. The Italian FREMM frigates sail with a crew of around 130 sailors, which means that over a third of sailors on the ship have been infected.

Launched in May this year, operation Irini is designed to 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. The mission’s initial mandate is until March 31, 2021. In total, about 20 countries of the European Union are participating, with staff or assets.

Italy previously contributed to the mission with amphibious transport dock ship ITS San Giorgio.