Op Irini friendly approaches

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An integral component of the EUNavFor Med tasking Irini to enforce an arms embargo on Libya is friendly approaches to merchant vessels in the Mediterranean.

Sixteen friendly approaches and visits have been executed since Irini started in May.

The friendly approach is a consensual visit undertaken without approval by the flag state of the vessel and does not entail enforcing activity of any type according to a statement.

“The visits are significant for contact with the maritime community and to exchange information, improving maritime awareness and security in the Mediterranean Sea.

“EUNavFor Med boarding teams board a merchant vessel at the master’s invitation. In a tranquil atmosphere information is exchanged, small gifts are given while co-operation and mutual understanding are strengthened. Operation headquarters in Rome, which instructs the friendly approach, is continuously informed of the situation and any developments.

“During conversation on the bridge, the EUNavFor Med boarding team explains the operation’s tasks and the Master provides information about the vessels’ trading routine.

“In this way Irini assets gather information on suspicious activities to ensure security in the central Mediterranean and enforce the arms embargo to and from Libya.

“The activity does not delay for the merchant vessel involved and COVID-19 measures are strictly observed by both parties during the visit.

“After less than an hour the Irini boarding team disembarks and the merchant vessel continues its daily duty.”