On Sunday, the 18th of June, the Belgian frigate Louise-Marie has joined EUNAVFOR MED and she will continue to support the operations until the 22nd of July. This deployment is the third time the Belgian Navy provides an asset to support Operation Sophia.
The commanding officer and the 157 crewmembers are eager to participate for the second time in this operation. For this mission, the crew of the Louise-Marie is reinforced by personnel of other services (divers, doctor & interpreter) and she is equipped with the Alouette III helicopter.
The Louise-Marie was deployed in November and December 2016 for the first time for EUNAVFOR MED Ops Sophia. This was a successful operation with 4 friendly approaches, 62 hailing, 19 intelligence reports, and 172 people rescued on two migrant boats.
Louise-Marie is ready to tackle all challenges this deployment will bring and is looking forward to provide the necessary buildings stones to disrupt the smuggling business model, contribute to the prevention of arms trafficking and if needed preserve the lives of migrants at sea.
We thank the Belgian navy for participating in this Operation and their efforts in the region. These European actions are necessary, in the first place to avoid more human drama. But also to relieve the pressure on the merchant navy. In recent years merchant shipping has rescued thousands of refugees at sea in the Mediterranean. The shipping industry therefore does not question the humanitarian imperative to help people and ship in need of assistance. However we see that people traffickers abuse the law of the sea, putting thousands of lives in jeopardy.
You can follow the adventures of the Louise Marie on a blog of the Belgian newspaper De Standaard (Dutch)