On 1 April, Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI changed its Force Commander during a ceremony in Taranto on board of the Italian frigate ITS GRECALE. Italian Rear Admiral Fabrizio Rutteri has taken over from the Greek Rear Admiral Michail Magkos the Command Authority of the European Joint Force operating in the Central Mediterranean, consisting of naval units and aircrafts and forward logistic facilities. The Ceremony was chaired by the Operation Commander Rear Admiral Stefano Turchetto.
“Operation IRINI has been active in the Central Mediterranean for two years now. Adding to the presence of Operation Sophia from 2015 to 2020, this marks a total of seven years of EU engagement in this critical area. Against the backdrop of continued political and security instability in Libya, IRINI’s mission represents an invaluable and unique tool for Europe to monitor and disrupt illicit activities at sea and in the air, off the coasts of Libya.” said the Operation Commander. IRINI´s presence is a key enabler for the European Union’s situational awareness in the Central Mediterranean, one of the most relevant and strategic areas for Europe and international trade.
Rear Admiral Turchetto sincerely thanked Rear Admiral Magkos for his work, and Greece for its essential contribution, including the two Flagships, HS NAVARINON and HS HELLI.
“Today the challenges that Rear Admiral Rutteri is taking up are key to the accomplishment of the mission assigned by the Council of the European Union to me and to the European Naval Forces in the Mediterranean”, continued Rear Admiral Stefano Turchetto addressing Rear Admiral Rutteri in his speech given during the Change of Command Ceremony.
The Operation Commander in his address also underlined the importance of the operation. IRINI is the only international actor permanently implementing the United Nations resolutions on the arms embargo on Libya, which sits at a complex juncture connecting the Mediterranean and the deep Sahel.
“With his passion and professionalism, I’ve for a long time appreciated him as our careers crossed several times in the past. Rear Admiral Fabrizio Rutteri and the Forces Under his command, will surely succeed in such a complex and challenging scenario” concluded Rear Admiral Turchetto.
Two years of implementation
In two years of activity, Operation IRINI has effectively implemented its mandate. It has investigated more than 6,200 ships, conducted almost 250 visits (also known as Friendly Approaches) onboard merchant vessels and 22 inspections. One illegal cargo was seized, preventing an illegal export Jet fuel for military aircrafts to Libya.
The Operation regularly monitors the transports activities of 16 Libyan ports and oil facilities, 25 airports and landing strips. Operation IRINIhas shared 35 reports with the United Nations Panel of Experts on Libya covering violations or possible violations of the arms embargo by all sides.
Operation IRINI Force Commanders are assigned on a six-month rotation by Italy and Greece, which also provide the Flagship and the backbone of the embarked Headquarters personnel.
Operation IRINI – named as the Greek word for “peace” – was launched on 31 March 2020, following a decision by the Council of the European Union. Its mandate has been renewed until March 2023. Its main task is the implementation of the arms embargo on Libya in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. The operation also has some secondary tasks, including monitoring illicit oil exports from Libya and human trafficking and smuggling activities. IRINI is also mandated to provide capacity building and training to the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy.
The operation counts on the support of 24 European Member States, providing ships, aircraft and personnel. Today, although in a period of international crisis, two Frigates, six aircrafts and almost 600 people are assigned to the EUNAVFOR in Mediterranean. The Operation counts on the instrumental support provided by the European Union Satellite Centre (SatCen) located in Torrejón (Spain).
Rear Admiral Fabrizio Rutteri, was born in Trieste (Italy) in 1969. In 1988 he joined the Naval Academy in Livorno and graduated in 1992. He assembled broad experience in his previous assignments. In particular, he served as Commanding Officer of FFG ITS GRECALE (2010-2011) and ITS DURAND DE LA PENNE A noteworthy constituent of his career is his participation to NATO Operation “Sharp Guard”, NATO High Readiness Force-Maritime and Italian maritime security operation off the coasts of Libya “Mare Sicuro” along with many other assignments abroad in multinational organizations.
Rear Admiral Michail D. Magkos joined the Hellenic navy in 1983 as Naval Cadet. Through a versatile sea career, Rear Admiral Magkos has blended his maritime experience with a broad span of Command. He has commanded 2 warships – HS ELLI and HS EVROS – and was also the Commander of Hellenic maritime Communications HQ (2015-2016). His EU experience includes his assignment as Deputy Chairman of EUMC WG in 2014 and as Chief of Staff of the IRINI Operation Headquarters in Rome (from March to September 2021).