Warning shots were fired at the Mazara Del Vallo based stern trawlers ALISEO and ARTEMIDE in international waters, off Misurata, Libya by a Libyan Coast Guard patrol vessel on Monday 6th May, 2021 with the commander of one of the trawlers was injured, the Italian media reported.
The Italian Navy (Marina Militare) Maestrale Class Frigate ITS LIBECCIO F 572 part of OPERAZIONE MARE SICURO in the Mediterranean Sea was dispatched to assist the fishing boats. Operazione Mare Sicuro established in 2015, is a mission of the Italian Navy aimed at ensuring maritime security in the Central Mediterranean Sea, an area of major national interest and was launched following the worsening of the Libyan crisis in order to provide presence, surveillance and maritime security, and to ensure freedom of navigation, according to national legislation and international agreements in force.
F 572 ITS LIBECCIO leaving Catania Port, Sicily back to 5th June 2017.
According to the Italian Navy, the frigate was instructed to assist a group of three fishing boats ARTEMIDE, ALISEO and NUOVO COSIMO which were conducting fishing activities in the waters of Tripolitania, within the “high risk” zone defined by the Inter ministerial Coordination Committee for Safety of Transport and Infrastructure located 35 nautical miles from the Libyan coast, north of the city of Al Khoms. The intervention of the Italian Navy warship was requested due to the presence of a Libyan Coast Guard patrol boat rapidly approaching the Italian fishing boats.
ITS LIBECCIO F 572, which at the time of the report was about 60 miles from the scene, headed towards the fishing boats at maximum speed and sent the helicopter, which reached the area and made radio contact with the patrol boat personnel. The frigate, which arrived in the vicinity of the fishing boats, received news of the presence of a seaman aboard ALISEO who was wounded in the arm.
ALISEO entering Grand Harbour, Malta back to 18th October, 2010.
Currently the fishing boats ARTEMIDE and NUOVO COSIMO are safely sailing northbound towards Mazara del Vallo while the frigate remained escorting the stern trawler ALISEO as the commander had been transferred by the Libyan Coast Guard on board the patrol boat for medical checks and later released.
To verify the situation, a P-72A MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) was also dispatched to the area of which the aircraft observed some warning shots from the Libyan patrol boat. The aircraft, that operates a mixed Air Force/Navy crew, belongs to the 41° Stormo (Wing) an Italian Air Force unit based at Sigonella Air Base, in Sicily. The P-72A is a military variant of the ATR 72-600. The Italian Air Force has received four P-72s that the service has used to replace the Breguet BR1150 Atlantic.
The firing of warning shots at the Italian fishing boats is just the latest in a series of incidents in the troubled waters located within the ZPP (Zona Protezione Pesca – Fishing Protection Zone) unilaterally declared by Libya in 2005 with the intention of exercising sovereign rights over fishing resources.
Last year, the stern trawlers ANTARTIDE and MEDINEA were seized with eighteen seafarers on board and remained in Libya for 108 days before being able to return home on 20th December, 2020. of which we issued an article too – https://maltashipnews.com/2020/12/17/fishing-italian-stern-trawlers-antartide-and-medinea-released-from-libya-17-12-2020/
Watermarked Photos are by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. NO PHOTOS can be used or manipulated without our permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com
Published – Saturday 8th May, 2021.