Royal Navy destroyer joins Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean

Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond joined the European operation Sophia by replacing HMS Enterprise, another Royal Navy ship which was part of the mission for several months.

Royal Marines and Royal Navy sailors from HMS Diamond conducted their final boarding exercise with HMS Enterprise prior to officially taking up their position as part of operation Sophia, the European naval force operation to counter human trafficking and the flow of illegal arms into Libya.

Enterprise, which has been a part of that mission for the past few months, recently made the news when she rescued over 700 people in distress off the Libyan coast; on Sunday she played the part of a “suspect” vessel in the exercise to give Diamond’s boarding team a unique training opportunity.

On her departure from Portsmouth last month, Diamond embarked a Royal Marines boarding team who will work with the Royal Navy team already on board. For some of the Marines this is the first time on board a warship.

Following a brief stop in Gibraltar to embark a Wildcat helicopter, Diamond proceeded towards her patrol area in the Eastern Mediterranean to the North of Libya where she will spend her time in EUNAVFOR MED operation Sophia monitoring suspicious shipping activity and conducting boarding operations on suspect vessels under the mandate of a United Nations Security Council Resolution.

“Diamond’s deployment on this mission demonstrates just how versatile the Type 45 destroyer is. We are able to monitor the airspace and situation over the entire Libyan coast, whilst at the same time conducting boarding operations to stop the flow of illegal arms into the country,” the ship’s commanding officer said.

On June 20, 2016, the Council of the European Union reinforced EUNAVFOR MED core mandate with two supporting tasks: the capacity building and training of, and information sharing with, the Libyan Coastguard and Navy, based on a request by the legitimate Libyan authorities taking into account the need for Libyan ownership; and the contributing to information sharing, as well as implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya on the basis of a new UN Security Council Resolution.